27 December, 2007

Christmas break '07

here's the moose playing with his thomas the train, trainset-made of real wood (that's what the box said)! he was in the play zone. christmas was pretty cool this year. very mellow, we didn't have to travel anywhere and the kids were pretty happy with what they received (even though we try and enforce to them that receiving stuff isn't nearly as important as giving stuff-note to self: good luck with that!). the weather has been pretty typical december weather up at 8800'. had to run the atv with the blade attachment several times. no biggy. right now though, the weather forecasters are saying we might receive 8" of snow today. christmas day, my in-laws and brother in-law and melissa's uncle and niece came down. it was a lot of fun. i taught her niece how to operate the atv and she plowed our driveway (her idea of fun). for entertainment, we played with maricel's dance dance revolution. or as maura calls it, "dance dance elution". melissa's cousin put on a dancing demonstration as we were no where close to her high scores. grandma busted a jig too. it was pretty fun hanging out with them. today, melissa's home sick and we're chilling with single digit temperatures all around us. that's okay because i stocked up on wood the night before and yours truly already started a nice, rip-roaring fire this morning. my birthday's round the corner too, y'all got anything for me?

09 December, 2007

First ski of the season with Alec @ Keystone

woa. again, the holy trinity of skiing (christians, forgive me...) with my homey, alec. which is: no lines, blue skies, and fresh powder (i can't stand it when people call powder pow-pow, makes 'em sound like poseurs). we left 6'ish from the evergreen park and ride expecting some hellish road conditions. it was icy. some numnuts in an lx 470 was sitting shotgun in the center median, high curbed by the snow, before the eisenhower tunnel. so i never exceed 55 mph all the way from evergreen and we arrive at the lot, right next to the red river entrance, with an hour to spare. i couldda hokked a loogy from my truck and it would've hit the gondola we were so close. dats right. we had a small breakfast at a joint called inkspot before the breakfast crowd came in. while eating, we talked about how out-of-the-box-thinking and sonically eccentric russian composers were and alec revealed he was into stravinski. the only stravinski i knew were the rite of spring and the firebird suite. pretty erratic and uniquely russian, no sing-songy stuff here.
anyhoo my first day on my new skis, the volkl karma's, and we head straight over to the outback. my first run consisted of ungroomed, fluffy powder, where i fell straightaway and had to have alec help me up because it was kinda deep. not a good start to get your skiing legs to have the ski-feel.
alec's sick day is equal to my normal ski day and that was the case today. even then when we were hitting the runs he attacked it like fat albert in line at country buffet. i kinda make my s-turns in no particular haste but we arrive at the same place with aplomb usually. that boy can ski.
the slopes had a power outage so the lifts were running on diesel. not the normal.
okay my skis. i was pleasantly surprised. alec has the k2 analog (public enemy) to my ski, so he told me of her characteristics in certain conditions and what type of effort i need to put her on edge (which is little effort). she was awesome. alec also said that it's confident on icy patches. sho'nuff it was. it's an exceptional ski and for the quasi powder in the bumps it was bulldozer-like pushing the extraneous hydrogen hydroxide out of my fall line. amazingly maneuverable in the bumps, and is escalade-like in the groomers. lovely it was.
as the day progressed, we were in chill mode and we were practicing our backwards skiing taking advantage of the twin tips. around 12:30 with alec's aerobic capacity cut in half with his cold and my legs made of balsa wood we bailed after a spirited run down red river-icy patches and all.
i like hanging with alec, he's a young kid ahead of his peers' years, can hang with any conversational permutation, and the girls dig him. the trip back to evergreen was slow and we listened to new stuff from our ipods. i was particularly intrigued by his band called sea and cake.
pictured are my inner boots liberated from their shells so that everything can dry so no mold or dry rot'll occur once they sit again for another coon's age until i can go skiing again. i've never had a bad day with alec. check out my previous blog tomfoolering with alec last ski season in breck.

17 November, 2007

Global Warming?

it's the 17th of november and i just got back from a 3h screamin' off-road ride with my homies. maybe the accelerated warming due to man is delaying the usual cold fronts and precipitation totals associated with november, but jeez-i guess i'll take it for now. met hez-chilly, alec, kenny, kevin, and johnx2 at the lower parking lot at white ranch this morning for the long loop workout. it was the moab group part two. you know what the nice parts of the moab trip was for me? it's mostly the conversations we have going in-between rides; and post-ride debriefs. usually billy and i walk from the hotel to downtown and back and our spectrum of topics hit the range of nutty to spiritual to downright man-gossip. it's a good mix of personalities i'm telling ya! it was really nice seeing them again, and to ride, it was dee-luxe. if i was a snotnose twenty year-old competitive cyclist, with no familial or temporal obligations this would be another perfunctory ride (because i'd be riding 4 days/week), but most of us are married with pumpkins or in a committed relationship, so to congregate for the main purpose of riding, it truly is special (dare i say: magical?).
it was chilly so i left the leg and arm warmers on. alec led the way to the whippletree cutoff. he seemed to be going quicker than his usual pace, so he's reaching a new, physiological plateau. poor kenny was battling a fever and a rush to get home to finish painting irene-his 500 horsepowered volvo wagon. you should read his blog. check out links i frequent. there's actually two climbs to get to the backside of white ranch-to a trail called wrangler. so, after alec's legs say to the group wassup now, i guess it's billy's (legs) turn to say wassup now 'cept a wee bit louder. today, he was an exceptional cleaning machine. holy mackerel, it was like he was busting a textbook display on how to clean obstacles. it was to impressive, needless to say, watching billy pass me when i dab'd. on the backside i missed john (from moab) and kev take a digger. it's a pretty technical downhill where you have to thread the needle pretty carefully. the tree roots are all off camber and there's always a tree directly across big boulders. so if you take a bad line, or slide on a root you're going to be doing an impression of the human pinball. sometimes the collisions are elastic, sometimes they're not. drag. it's common courtesy that when i crash i would like to see somebody crash as well-at least for the free entertainment value. the other john crashed as wel and when we waited at a trail junction his knee was a nice, streaming crimson. i guess it's officially a ride now...
when we finally cross the upper parking lot and descend back into the lower parking area, kev takes off. it's mostly a fireroad down so the lines aren't too sketchy but boy the babyheads just flat out suck for hardtails. kev was supersonic but i was determined to keep him at least within three or four car lengths of yours truly. if there weren't any hikers i swear we would've broken our pr's down the hill. kev was launching off the little bumps and clear about 20 or so feet of ground everytime. it looked like fun so i did the same except i didn't bunnyhop (compress both my arms and legs) as aggressive as kevin, cleared about the same distance over the ground, but didn't get the cool, visual gap between tires and ground. nutty. at this point you never mentally think about crashing, only watching the person's line in front of you. kev takes some nasty lines and gets away with it seamlessly because he has a dual boinger as well as skill(s). i still have to thread the needle ever so often and it scrubs my speed (boohoo!). at the last creek crossing, it's billy, kev, and me. once the posse reforms, billy says, "you know the secret of the rock garden?". i say, "you hit it fast." truly that's 90 percent of mt biking. you hit the obstacle fast enough so that you roll over it; plus, low speed crashes hurt. a lot! so at the rock garden, billy picks his way while i dab. so now it's kev, billy, and me racing to the last cattle gate. billy hears me bearing down on him and he kicks it. i yell, "get him [kev]!" kev hears this and kicks it twice as hard and that's how it finishes. no one passed nobody. it was a great ride in the company of great people. like the saying goes: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. this groups elevates everybody else socially and physically. can't beat that...
afterwards alec and i bust a lunch in morrison. he eats a meatball sub; i, a phat piece o' greasy cheese pizza washed down with mt. dew. did i mention this ride was the shizzle?
the title picture represents the speed this group has whenever somebody gets a wild hair in their (downhill) a$$ (read: kev).

29 October, 2007

The More the Merrier

if the aphorism the more the merrier didn't apply to this iteration of moab i wouldn't know which would. usually it's just hez-billy, kev, and me. but as the years progress alec (see links i frequent in left sidebar) was added into the mix. now, john and julie (coincidental that their names start with the letter "j" don't you think?) and their unique brand of gregariousness were the latest addition. it was a stupendously personable trip.
it all started saturday morning at four, ante meridiem. for our posse, it was the evergreen park and ride; for billy's posse, it was the highlands ranch (bermuda) triangle. eventually we all met at the city market in breck, where everything's closed at 5 a.m. we eventually had starbucks and evacuated normal bodily functioning waste products in rifle (where, incidentally the wal-mart's open by six). julie was pretty much asleep (partied a wee bit too late) until we arrive at the parking lot at sovereign. alec's an unstoppable, damn-the-torpedoes destination kinda guy and we go sans break directly to the sovereign trail, whereas billy's posse actually has breakfast back in rifle. okay, here's the ride itinerary: sovereign, amasa back-pipeline (day one), and slickrock (day two-last day). let me preface this trip with: billy has only one useful hand on this trip and he absolutely slayed.
the trail finding part of sovereign's always tricky and to add to the geographically impaired scenario, at the trailhead junction some poor state workers were x-raying natural gas lines (for cracks) and told us to stay away so as not to get irradiated by radium. radium breaks down into radon (a problem for people with basements) and alpha particles. its symbol is Ra with 88 protons that don't like each other in the nucleus and whose atomic weight's 226, and yes, i'm a science geek.
the first day was a great re-introduction to moab with temps in the mid-70's and sun, sun, sun, all around. we rode pretty conservatively because we were going to do a second ride later that day. conservatively means chilly-chill on the ups while still trying to be squeaky clean on the technical stuff with letting the bike run free on the downs. and that's how it was, billy and his lobster-clawed hand was putting on a cleaning demonstration. in fact, alec was hypnotized by his smooth, clean uphill line(s) that he smacked a tree at speed telescoping his mesmerized mellon onto his cervical vertebrae. it was like the complete opposite of rock-em, sock-em robots if you can remember that far back. his helmet made a loud thwack as it got punctured by a rather pointy branch. yup. nutty. anyhoo, our gaggle of riders where all lined up roady style on the climbs cleaning (some walking) the techy stuff, making my roady self all proud and shtuff. julie said at one particularly technical uphill, "man, i wish we were going down this stuff!" and i told her it's an out-and-back so we will. on the back part, kev took off and i followed his line (he has a point and shoot style (dual boinger), whereas i thread the needle (hardtail)) and he was flying. we built a little lead at the part of this technical downhill where we could spectate and be entertained by our posse's downhill skill. we expected john to be good and he was. if billy dab'd, we'da goofed on him (because he is after all, mr. clean), and we didn't know what to expect from alec and julie. julie showed us her downhill skills and alec showed vast improvement from last year. after the ride we all wanted to nap and eat and we would start amasa back by 4:30. so hello mr. sandman...
back on the bike a second time was literally painful for all the body contact points with the saddle and primary movers. billy didn't join us because his post operative (lobster claw)hand was hurting. we moved pretty slow and kev and john gave us a downhill technical demonstration as we hit the trailhead. on the way up we saw some neat and/or busted looking tweaked-out 4wd crawlers (see pic) and blue, warring native americans strategically placed by our mt. biking predecessors (see pic). john laid down the gauntlet and flew up squeaky clean followed by kev, julie, and alec. near sundown we snapped some cool pics at a decent overlook and began looking for our landmark pipeline to go back down. i took the lead and as the sunlight diminished so did my trail finding abilities. i accidentally took them down some nutty a$$ed terrain, through some electrical posts and stopped because i ran out of trail. once we found it, it was pathetic trying to ride our bikes from this point forward. in fact, john was hitting a pretty technical descent where his front tire hit an obstacle, turned the bike (front wheel perpendicular to rest of bike), and he launched away from the uphill. he landed on a rock ledge just wide enough to support his body in the fetal position. he probably could've used a stitch or two on his left quad cut (see pic). if it were a few more inches to the left, he surely would've fallen off the 500 foot cliff where we were making our way down. alec and i were in awe in how close he was to walking towards the white light. he was truly inches away from death. it was like witnessing a car wreck, it's kinda ghastly but your hardwired, instinctual rubbernecking supersedes all logic and you stare, with your mouth and eyes wide-open like a silent nitwit. note to self: don't do cliff rides at night. my god it was awesome trying to get down. it was cloudy so no light whatsoever from above and we were trying to remember the way out from memory from earlier years. it was the blind leading the clueless. it was uber-nutty now. we were barely walking on the rocks and it was sooo dark. holding the bikes didn't help either. once down we had to portage our bike over the final obstacle-a creek. it was cold and kinda deep. on the other side of the crossing was a rather high embankment that made it difficult to get over. we did the fireman bucket brigade for our bikes and busted the human ladder-action to get out. once back at our cars, john selflessly shared his classic tasting beers and we inhaled it while our endorphins popped and our adrenaline subsided. yuck. wet shoes (and julie left her wet socks in alec's ride. you go girl!). yea! we exited amasa back with no permanent damage. dinner consisted of our usual: a trip to city market's salad bar. time for sleep and paraphrasing john a cacophony of snoring...
day two: slickrock (see pic o' julie climbing). we were pooped out from the first day but a trip to moab isn't complete without doing slickrock. alec's friends came out to ride this one. they didn't fare so well. on the flipside, alec really showed major improvement. again, we roadied up the climbs in our nice little group and lunched it at shrimp rock (see pic). after that, our legs couldn't hang with the anaerobic stuff. i gave it all i had on the really steep stuff and could barely mash the pedals, but everybody was feeling this empty too. knowing that the end was near, i pedaled my way to the front of the group and i could see billy jamming it. i put in my middle ring and floored it. i came on him and he said, "sounds like a mike mequi closing in." then he jammed it. at the last bend came the unofficial finish line (the cattle guard crossing), i was so close i could've gave him a wheel enema and i was calculating how to get around him. the centrifugal force was too much to pass on the inside and the left hand sweeper we were on was off-cambered. i figured i would do the classic brake-late-and-pass-him on-the-outside-apex. i guess he figured that out too and he held the line firm and i couldn't jam him on the holeshot. as a competitor, i can respect that billy outkicked me to the line (...bastidge...). we entertained the thought of riding top of the world later, but that left our synapses after 0.000001 seconds.
this latest version of extraordinarily cool people on and off the bike was 6.8 stars out of five. somebody pinch me, i must be dreaming; and to boot, i'm off the rest of the week (go teaching, go teaching, it's your birthday...). billy and i both agree that this episode of moab and the cast members (and what they brought to the mix physically, socially, sonically, intellectually, and spiritually) involved resulted in an extremely memorable experience. i'm probably going to suffer from post traumatic holiday blues...

21 October, 2007

here we go (again)!...

well folks, historically the first significant snowfall in the metro area's the 19th of october. today's the 21st, so no significant symptoms of the greenhouse effect at this zipcode (at least not yet!). okay, i missed the worldwide blogosphere day of blogging about something green (it was the 15th of october), so here it is belatedly: after evacuating your colon in the woods, don't wipe your butt with foliages of three, especially if there's a hint of red on it. 'nuff said.
it's been snowing since last night; and thankfully, there's like less than a foot up here, although now it's starting to pick up again. there's a couple of spots on our dirt road (did you read my last blog entry?-if you didn't, i'm now a hillbilly) where the drifts are maybe two feet high. nothing a pickup truck with factory clearance can't bust through. i say this now, hopefully i'll be able to get to work tomorrow.
looked at the nws (as opposed to n.w.a.) website for our moab trip this upcoming weekend, it said saturday was going to be in the 70s. ah yeauh. exactly 365 days ago billy, kevin, alec, and i would've been slogging through vail pass both directions. looks like a good sign so far forecastingly speaking.
my kids and i played briefly in the snow before sunset. it was fun. mason's slowly getting adjusted to the snow. he's not the daredevil like his sisters are when it comes to high speed sledding long distances. had to go to the barn and bust out my sorrels. these boots are far and away the best snow accessory i have. it's sad to say, that i use it more than my skis. hopefully that'll change.
finished colbert's book i'm american (and so can you!). i was completely saturated with his sense of humor by the third page. coming from me (and get this!), it was sophomoric. but, like a bad movie, i'll stay and finish it. so that's what i did. i forced myself to finish reading it. i'd say it was tolerable and thank goodness for my high school library (i wouldn't have paid for this). my media specialist friends at my high school are so awesome they order books worth their weight if you ask them nicely. so far, they've ordered (because, like i said, i asked them nicely, i've read it, and they're generally pretty open to enlightening material): the places in between by rory stewart, survival of the sickest (forgot his name), andthe world is flat by friedman(n?).
click on the link at my margin for my friend kenny's website (denverspeed.com) and read his latest entry about his car, irene. irene is a volvo that just posted 500 horses on the dynamometer. impressive isn't it?
above's a couple of snapshots of what's going on here currently...
ps. two of my most favorite former students visited me at my house on friday to hand deliver an invitation. but it wasn't special that they visited me (okay it was) but how they were dressed was unique. they were dressed in theme. and the theme is: roman. yup, they're going to be officially 21 in two weeks and they're having a roman-themed celebration hailing their legalness. to describe them would be...class. yup, they are unbelievably mature for their age, they both value education, laugh at my esoteric (read: lame) jokes, and have a good head upon their respective shoulders. so needless to say, i'ma show up in garb for their soiree (don't worry, it's at his folks' house).
pps. chip and i are having a tift due to differences of opinion.

07 October, 2007

Hillbilly Deluxe (sorry Dwight)

we've almost achieved the hillbilly trifecta (if we haven't already achieved it!). one: we purchased a truck to haul firewood; two: we live in the boonys; and three: we just purchased this lovely 4wd atv-the king quad! of course we don't have any helmets, we just ride it and if our kids are behaving, they ride shotgun on it with either melissa or i piloting like a 16 year-old kid first time on a moped. the reason we bought this is is because our awesome, former, next door neighbors have moved and this contraption is how they plowed our properties. since they're gone, we're going to have to do the plowing. our new neighbors are floridians and they just purchased our neighbors house as a summer retreat. that means we don't have to plow as much since their house'll be vacated during the winters. the aspens' turning is from our backyard. pretty isn't it?
i've been sitting on the fence about completing a trip to moab. so, now, i guess i'm going to go. here's why. yesterday a cycling teammate of mine and friend was having a realization that there might not be a future with his girlfriend of several years. on our ride, we talked about the possible combination/permutations of their relationship outcomes, and how to possibly heal one's self and shtuff like that. on the ride, out on the road, we slide up with a former pro from south america named fabio (outside of coors in golden), spontaneously formed a paceline, and chatted it up with him. coincidentally, he too, unsolicited, professed that he and his girly-girl (also from south america) was having a shit-or-get-off-the-pot issues (she was, not him he was committed). hmmmm. i'm sensing a theme here with my male, cycling friends/acquaintances. so after the ride, rashid and fabio exchange numbers. it's kind of nutty the conversations that originate in all male training rides. back at chris' place i offer an ear for him if he needs one and hope that it comes to a mutual resolution or a new chapter in his life. during my trip back to conifer, my pre-college and college friend hakim (not his real name) left me two messages during the weekday to call him for a ride today that i haven't returned. i return his call on my return trip and when he recognizes my phone number on his phone he begins with, "mike, i'm a man with a broken heart." yikes, it's lightning striking 3x. so after we talk a while on the phone i suggest that he come out with me on a trip to moab i've been pretty ambivalent about-to get out of his physical location to see something different to distract, clear the mind, and ride the sovereign and slick rock trails. now, do you see why i'm going to moab?
the digital thermometer said this to me this morning, better go light a fire...

23 September, 2007

Fall equinox's a'comin'

yesterday began with a bike ride up squaw pass-starting from bergen park-to echo lake and back down. took 2.5 hours. started at 8:30 so i was wearing the arm warmers, thermal base layer, and the groovy matching vc windbreaker vest (thanks christopher) to compliment my nutty vitamin cottage ensemble (aka the barney kit). there's practically no cyclists that early in the morning ascending the evergreen side of squaw, but i passed one anyways. it was a beautiful, penultimate day of summer with the aspens' colors changing. yeah, the date on this picture's some years old, but that's what i saw yesterday (i'm tellin' ya!). the weather was crisp and my pistons were okay. descending onto echo lake, i had a fierce headwind but that's okay, because on the return trip to bergen park i had a nice tailwind generously pushing me. i tried not to use my granny, but had to a couple of times because i don't want to go hard in the off-season (to be honest, i never really had an on-season this year). a butt-load of jet bikers were cruising up squaw too with their four-bangers and aftermarket exhausts redlining the straightaways. it's an impressive sound hearing them blow by me in their crotch missile aero tuck. there were your cruiser-harley-types too practicing for their sunday drives.
i rode early because i was meeting my in-laws and my family at home so we could go hike kenosha pass (as well as the rest of colorado). parking wasn't an issue because there's always somebody leaving. i portage mason on the kid kelty and it's off we go. it's always a hoot hiking with the family because my girls hike like it's nobody's business nowadays. there was a lot of hominids either riding or walking out on the colorado trail (the eastside of 285). saw alison dunlap sporting her luna bar kit. asked her if she's doing anything competitive and she replied she's semi-retired. what a cool girl. i remember meeting her back in the 90's in one of our u.t. cycling meetings. our plan was to hike up till it peaked then pull a u-turn. my new plan when carrying mason's to bring my ski-poles to augment my balance as they act like outriggers on a sea canoe. it also helps me when i use 'em like cross country poles giving me a little push as i go uphill (and braking when i descend). mason's yelling, "hi!" to all the people we pass making me deaf in one ear. i tell him to quit yelling. what mason also likes is when i get close to trees on the singletrack, i tell him to touch the bark or overhanging branches of the trees. so whenever he sees trees now he always reminds me to, "touch, daddy." he's cool like that. once we get to the apex, grandma reminds grandpa of a bench there were he can rest. i snap some pictures of the surrounding area when we get to the bench. the middle picture's from melissa and her esthetically refined viewpoint. the top one's mine. it's overlooking southpark with 285 meandering in the background. we hike a little further and maura and her no-nap-today self's already getting pooped-out and cranky. so we turn around and head on back. she trips on a root and cries a bit because she hurt her knee. she's really tired and mason and his 40-pound self translates into kid kelty's shoulder straps digging into my atrophied scapulas. i want to bellyache but i don't. it's the return trip anyhooses. on our way home we comment on how there's a long-ish queue at the coney island (hotdog) landmark. it's good if you like greasy spoon joints with artery clogging milkshakes to boot (remember denver's griff's hamburgers?).
at the safeway conifer complex, we have an early dinner at anthony's pizza and pasta. our family orders a sicilian-style thick crust pizza (vegetarian of course!), we devour it, and wash it down with pop (my dietary achilles heel). here's a bit of safeway conifer trivia: there's a new starbucks there and yours truly was their first ever customer. so, i received a pound of coffee gratis and they also took my picture with the caption: our very first!. how funny is that? so whenever i go inside for my nicotine delivery device every now and again i look at my picture. it's akin to listening to your recorded voice. "nutty" i say to myself whenever i look at that unreasonable facsimile of me on the wall. have i mentioned that i like that anthony's ny-style pizza?
at our house we start a bonfire, setup the lawn chairs, and veg so as to signal our end to a righteous, physically active day. we roast some marshmallows on grandpa's whittled branches to make s'mores that we eat for dessert. it's close to the girls bedtime and melissa and i are bear-hugging a kiddo each (on our laps, mason's already in bed), taking advantage of convection (as opposed to confection) heating made possible by a grant from our bonfire...a great end to a fantastic day of riding and quality family time. o yes...

25 August, 2007

last winterpark series xc race: point to point, king of the rockies

yo freakadelics. here are the results for today-13th place! coincidentally, that's the same place i came in for the last xc race with my complicitor kenny (see "links that i frequent"). this was by far the best off-road experience i've had racing yet. it was a lovely 25.8 mile jaunt in some of the most gnarliest terrain ever-let alone in a xc race! whoever thought of putting a (tipperary) creek crossing where the top of the water exceeds the bottom bracket height is nutrageous. anyhoo, like always, i was running just a wee bit late and since it was a point to point, i had to ride a wee bit tempo, 5 miles away from the ski area past fraser, to get to our staging area. no biggy, it beats getting there two hours early to register and sit around wasting precious energy. this time i pre-reg'd on-line and saved ten bones. there was a three mile fireroad that began before the climb. all the roadies got up front and pushed this insane pace. there were already people peeling off the front due to this insane pace (don't they know it's a 25.8 mile race with a wicked sawtooth profile?). welcome to colorado racing folks. the people who popped early were true mountain bikers because of the high rpms they had when they exploded backwards, plus they couldn't draft to save their lives. damn roadies (just kidding, it was kind of cool actually). billy, preroad this course a while back and gave me the 411 where the crucial holeshot would be (at the singletrack hillclimb off the fireroad). so, with this in mind i kept my pack position top ten-like. sure enough, with no warning the corner marshall pointed left (her right), and we rocket up the singletrack. billy also said to keep it in the middle ring, which i did. all good information. i pretty much stayed in this position until the final climb with some six miles to go. it was so immensely difficult for me at this point i had to put it in my granny; furthermore, my chain was so dry it kept skipping off the upper two cogs (the ones closest to the spokes). so i had to climb in a gear a wee bit more difficult for me to spin. this is where i got passed by a whole slew of people.
the insane part of this race was the people who were in front of me who turned on the after-burners on the downhills. for the rocky stuff it was just too much for my hardtail (instead of pointing and shooting like the dual boingers, i had to thread the needle to find the path of least resistance) but on the quasi-loamy, hard dirt, i didn't believe how fast we were flying. the speeds were fataly surreal. i bet we were humming at least 40 mph through some unbelievable (singletrack) scenery. it was awesome! another reason why my endorphins are pegging is how excellent my bike (other than the dry chain) responded. it felt as if my bike were an extension of my filipino pistons. she was righteous the way she gave me feedback and application of watts baby! i love my yeti (that didn't sound right). for a dollar i'll let you touch my yeti, if you want.
well, when the dust settled my blown-self finito'd 13. it's ite, but the endorphin cascade was off the charts. no flats, no ruined components, just a big toofy grin with my funkified pheromones kickin' stereo-like in my pits (my pheromones were saying, "check me out, i be glowing and sheeyat, muh-fuh."). oh yeah! all hail winterpark!
i didn't stick around for the schwag. i've already been there for six hours. did i mention there was 4,100 feet of climbing today? did i mention also, that i finished a 25,8 mile course in 2 hours and 27 minutes? did i again mention that today was pretty durn righteous? well, i mean to. well, cyclocross season here i come....

28 July, 2007

Hanging w/ Grant in El Paso (county, that is)-revised

woa. kenny. you missed a spankin' good time brah. we were thinking positive thoughts of you though on today's ride. when i mapquested grant's address, it's officially 97 miles door to door. that's all right though, it was my turn to go his haunts. here's the dealio with grant: i've known grant since the late 80's from our hometown of plano, tx. plano, is a story in and of itself really. anyhoo, we were roommates in college (hook 'em horns muhfuh!), lived in north austin (across the street from the state parole board), on a street called shoal creek, teammates on the plano schwinn cycling team and at the university of texas (hook 'em horns again muhfuh!-dats right), and even taught at the same school in plano. he, social studies; me, science. quite a long and storied past, but i digress...
right outside his door there's a whole series of trails were we can dump ourselves into and ride to some pretty spectacular topography with picture postcard vistas all around us. so we climb up to buckhorn, and he shows me some exceptional views like helen hunt waterfall and rampart range. buckhorn's scarily like the the scree fields at the top of the firecracker 50 singletrack. it's like a tightroping act, here's why. grant says the trail is pulverized granite and it's very scree-like, so any little bobble can lead your tire to some traction breaking rough which can take you over the edge if there're drop offs. the key is to go fast uphill and look where you want to go because if you slow down, you increase your chance to vacillate your handlebars where it can place your front tire in very loose gravel. grant's flying uphill (he's getting fit to race the leadville 100) and i'm working pretty hard just to stay in contact with him. i rarely put it in my granny, mostly my middle. once we get to the top of buckhorn we take some pix of this amazing vista. at the top are some cyclists who complain of motocrossers ehfing up the singletrack. grant's a pretty non-confrontational guy except when it comes to cycling. so he tell's the guy to pipe down because it's the moto-xers that maintain the trails in this here parts. grant warns me the downhill's pretty loose at some places, so we hit it pointing down. sure enough we're flying and any deviation off the packed gravel and my front tire's washing with it's own agenda. this is dangerous because there's a cliff off to my left. i spy grant's line and copy him to a tee. my skiing background gives me a tendency to g.s. turn it to scrape off speed with a natural turn without hitting the brakes. in this loose stuff, it just makes the front tire go squirrely. i lose it a couple of times and i throw out my inside leg to avoid smacking the ground. i hit some woop-de-doos and i get the giggles because on the apexes my stomach gets weightless and it makes me laugh in fits. nutty funny.
grant says this downhill's called jacks (upper or lower or something close to that). again it's like the firecracker without the babyheads.
our next singletrack's up palmer. incidentally grant climbs like a billy goat and we know the physiological, background reason why. insert harp-type music here, reminiscent of earlier times...
the summers in austin were spent scrounging for money to pay our apartment's rent. since we were cat a racers-grant thinks i sandbagged the cat b's-the graduate student friends we knew in the human physiology dept. were always asking the cyclists to be their guinea pigs in figuring out physiological triggers. we participated in a tour de france study where shaklee (a sports specific, dietetically nutritional l.l.c) was testing their energy drink. we had to ride a total of three hours (one day a week for a month) in various levels of intensity relative to our vo2 max (the way our body utilizes oxygen per kilogram body mass). the science behind it was, to see how our slow-twitch muscles retained glucose (clear=no glucose, dark-ish means glucose retention), during aerobic/anaerobic events (hence the 'tour' study). so, you ask, how do they sample our fast and slow twitch muscles? well, they biopsy a pea-six amount from our vastus lateralis during the ride and physically count, under a microscope (then we hop on the bike and finish the regimen). witnessing our own biopsy was more unbelievable than someone telling us we were getting a biopsy. they paid us for this. the nutty part was the scalpel they used to tease/cut our faschia in front of the lateralis was the same one in my dissection kit (i bought a nice one for my a and p classes). grant has the distinction of having mostly slow-twitch muscles; me, split fairly even between fast and slow-twitch. this translates-on rides-to grant is essentially a lung with the metabolism of a kangaroo rat. on endurance rides with him, i have to eat and eat and eat (and drink) in order to match his intensity (which on this day i couldn't). fast forward...now!...
he rides away from me at palmer and i ride at tempo so as not to be too far back. we bust a u-turn and shred it on the downs to keep it at three hours and for me to stave off mr. bonks. we hit this place called the "chutes" where it's a burmed, somewhat technical at speed, singletrack-like a luge course. the centrifugal force on the berms made the bikes, if you were crankin' it, ride the singletrack at some pretty obtuse angles. fast and nutty it was, thrilling mostly. total ride time was three and a quarter hours. for me that was good, because there were almost no rests and i was drilling it in the middle ring trying to keep up with him on the ups. wow. what a great ride. i showered, said my goodbyes to their largess' and headed back home to celebrate my mother in-law's birthday.
thanks grant and christina and next time kenny....

24 July, 2007

Last Day at Tahoe

it doesn't bode well for me when it rains on the last day. we planned the route i took to squaw for today on the truckee recreational trail (pictured). we brought all our bikes with us, but we didn't think maura would make the 10-mile round trip so we rented a 2-kid trailer and attached it to my yeti. it started to rain sure enough, but it didn't stop our ride. i must admit though, there's nothing more mentally ill than starting a ride in the rain. i don't mind if it rains on us when we're out there but before? booohooo.
maricel was a trooper and her new bike has 6 gears and a high-low chainring. on the way back i tried to teach her when to shift and she was awesome. she rode the whole ten miles with nary a complaint. at the end though, she said that her legs felt pretty "rubbery". she's awesome. may i add that maura and mason fought like cats behind me in the trailer. i had to ignore them because i didn't want their foolishness to ruin my ride.
to end this great, and last day on holiday, we decompressed at commons beach (pictured), right there in lovely tahoe city. the girls went shopping and i watched the kids play in the water and playground. they played for at least 3 hours and it's funny watching little people interact with other little people. there's kind of a hierarchy that's there. they definitely don't like whiners. for example, maricel and maura can knock off some monkey bars, but when a whiner needs help and whines for attention, the group pretty much ignores them. there was also this big rock where kids can free climb. what a great collection of objects for kids to be kids. a climbing rock, an elaborate swing-monkeybar-two-tiered slides-platform thingy. the grand finale was when i put both girls on one swing (facing each other) and pushed them so hard up in the air all they did was laugh, laugh, and laugh.
on our way back home to colorful colorado, we passed through elko, nv. it brought back fond memories of when kenny and i drove his corvette from reno to denver.

22 July, 2007

Tenzing Daddy

when they were younger, it was conceivable to do hikes 'round three or so hours in fairly technical terrain. nowadays, with mason close to 30 pounds, two hours of mildly technical terrain's pretty much all i can handle. the hardest part is taking off and putting the kid kelty (with mason) on. next year, though, i'll be damned if i'm backpacking with any of my urchins on my back. i considered a b.o.b. tricycle/babyjogger, but the wheel width's so narrow i've seen people dump it with their kids in it.
next year, it'll probably be shorter hikes with all three busting out some bipedalism with varying degrees of proficiency. my shoulder's are screaming every now and again when i hit the two hour mark; but, the trade-off's checking out things in awe with 10 brand new eyes.
this picture's of mason and me (and the rest of team m, not pictured) hiking cascade falls on our first, true day in the desolation wilderness of lake tahoe.

21 July, 2007

Lake Tahoe, Day Four

this morning was dedicated to mountain biking-shweeet! so i consult the handy-dandy guide book to see how to ride to squaw valley, home of the 1960 winter (duh) olympics. lo and behold there's a dedicated bike trail called the truckee recreational trail. 4.9 miles from tahoe city to squaw. i don the monkey suit (my teammates refer to it as the barney costume due to it's garish displays of purple-ouch!) and kick on down highway 89 to tahoe city onwards to sqizzy-squaw. it follows the truckee river which originates in tahoe city now being controlled by a dam. the trail's filled with families cycling so i say something encouraging as i pedal on by them. in the motherland-colorado-i'm assuming most ski areas are open to mountain bikers; therefore, california ski areas must be too. i get to the base at squaw and it's eerily devoid of any cycling activity. i spy a nice, juicy trail heading upwards and i ask a worker bee if this trail hooks up with a maintenance road to the top. he replies, "there hasn't been any mountain biking here for the past 5 years ever since a cyclist hurt himself pretty bad." back in my mind i hear the charlie brown wahhhhh, wahhhhh, wahhhhhh whenever charlie self-mulliganed. how LAY-YUM is that!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i was so psyched to tear some squaw valley terrain up and now this?! it's like, when you're supremely hungry, ordering a nice, juicy, veggie burrito and hunkering down on it and finding out it's a garlic, mayonnaise, and tapetum lucidum (it's what causes light to bounce from certain mammals' eyes and allows them wicked night vision) from the eye-balls of bovines-flavored. incidentally, the wahhhhh, wahhhhhhh, wahhhhhh sound it a trumpet (or coronet) blasting onto a the surface of water (as if in a fishbowl). the sound waves are muted because it's randomly bouncing off the surface of the water (due to water's adhesive and cohesive forces, and yes, i'm a geek). from that point on, my reptilian brain stem was in a f-bomb tape loop, slowly stewing and fermenting, poisoning my mellow-self, ready to pop and unleash holeee verbal hell if someone were to ask me what i'm doing here with a bike.
i head back to tahoe city, still in disbelief, go back up the granlibakken resort and do yesterday's ride in reverse. to spite squaw resorts, i did not buy a cheesy, touristy cotton-poly blend t-shirt. so there squaw valley wankers!
hooked up with my ass-kicking family and decompressed at meek's beach. the rains fell and we spontaneously decided to make a field trip to south tahoe, home of the '07 fires, heavenly ski resort (owned by vail and associates), and gambling. on the way there, highway 89 went on a ridge temporarily and on either side we saw lake tahoe on the left, and cascade and fallen leaf lakes (pictured). it was visually stunning and for i got a picosecond's worth of vertigo. strange.
at s. tahoe i scored a cheesy, touristy, cotton-poly blend t-shirt with characters assembled in this sequence, going left to right, h-e-a-v-e-n-l-y displayed where one's pectoral muscles would go. since this joint was owned by vail and associates it was formulaicly touristy yet mildly enjoyable (kinda like your date on ketamine). did you know, that at homewood resort kids ski free if they're less than or equal to 10 years of age? betcha didn't know that...

19 July, 2007

Lake Tahoe, Day Three

there are so many state parks here with camping that there's always plenty of places for people to leisurely and inexpensively enjoy lake tahoe without that yosemite-esque carnival atmosphere; and, the maintenance in these areas are nearly impeccable. you go to state lake park near the dallas, texas area there'll be broken glass in the bathrooms, litter strewn hither and yon, and you'd be surrounded by a bunch of drunk yahoos to boot. anyhoo, our handy-dandy guide book said that d.l. bliss state park has great beach front in lester beach; and, it's the beginning of the rubicon (hiking not the 4wd) trail. the sand at the beaches here is really coarsely ground, pulverized rocks; and for me, overtime it hurts my green feet (boo-hoo)when i walk barefoot on it (in the water as well). the beaches here have nenes (geese) walking around with little fear of humans. in fact, when i was pulling the girls on their floaties, a duck was grooming itself right near us. i gently touched its wing to say, "hello!" it jumped, and maricel and i giggled. i goosed a goose.
okay, the trail. rubicon trail ends at emerald bay. on its shores there's a historical landmark, a house, called vikingsholm. the original owners back in the '40s used old school scandinavian engineering to build vikingsholm. for instance, it has thatched, turfed roof without any nails keeping everything together. check out the topmost pic. in-between lester beach and vikingsholm we would also see: a lighthouse, rubicon point, and calawee cove-a smallish, sandy cove with less of a crowd there. the little bay with the tree in the background's one perspective of calawee cove; the polarized shot looking out towards the lake's another perspective. it's a 4 miler one-way to vikingsholm so we're pushing our timely luck with tenzing daddy portaging mason. we had to ask grandpa to watch the girls on the beach when we went hiking, of course he said, "yes", so off we go for about 2.5 hours, roundtrip. while hiking, the girls were completely content building sandcastles and jumping in the cold water to cool off (and repeating when necessary). calawee cove was picturesque and we made a mental note to hang out there later in the week. rubicon point was gorgeous too and i took a picture of it. from the pictures, it's the big dead tree in the foreground. the lighthouse should've been called the outhouse-it was lame (say lame, using two syllables!)!
after the beach, i went on a solo mountain bike ride on the tahoe rim trail (trt). not the whole loop but the part that started near tahoe pines. the trt was kind of technical and i took skip's advice and the route advice of a bike mechanic in a store called cyclepaths for my sub-2h ride. the ascent from tahoe pines led me to a vista called alpine meadows-a scenic, high alpine forest (with nobody there!). it was spooky quiet and super lush with this great light coming in from the trees' canopies. gorgeous. so i keep taking right handers and you really can't get lost out here-any downhill leads to the lake. so i'm middle-ringing the trail (it's comparable to riding at night, it's a hyper-alert olfactory situation where the legs pedal tirelessly) and geeking at everything. i see a trail marker for tahoe city, 3 miles it says. yup, 3 miles of downhill. it was sweet (again, there's nobody out here)! it dumps me into a private, quasi-posh tennis/ski club called granlibakken. here i tuck into my mt. aero position to take advantage of the downhill, paved streets to take me back to highway 89. wow!
before the in-laws go out for dinner, they agree to watch mason for a wee bit, so the remaining team m go on a bike ride (yup, maricel and maura ride now) to sugar pine point state park. there's endless, paved, two-way bike lanes here so we hop on the trail from our b&b to the sugar pine. at sugar pine, the ehrman mansion overlooks lake tahoe with a medium-lengthed pier going over the lake. when we arrive, it's twilight so the lake seems like it's glowing this faint, blue hue and nobody's on the pier. we walk out and you can see lake's bottom. it's surrealy transparent with this bluish tint, similar to the blue you see on glaciers. man, here's team m just soaking up this beautiful moment. nobody's talking and there's this electric hush around us we're feeling each other's camaraderie, familial bond-energy. it was downright spiritual, it was. you only feel like this in the inside maybe 10 times in a lifetime if you're lucky...

16 July, 2007

Lake Tahoe, Day Two

well, it's the seventh day of the seventh month in the year of our lord 2007 years after his immaculate conception (which i learned can happen after watching a real cool movie: quinceneara). supposed to be the luckiest day of the year if you're into that kind of shizzle. ite, i guess i felt pretty lucky and in awe being in such beautiful scenery with my family and in-laws.
we-maricel, mason on my back riding inside a kid kelty, grandma, melissa, and maura-hiked cascade creek falls & melissa, mason, and i hiked granite lake. granite lake trail, which was a grunt of a hike, needed a wilderness permit to enter the desolation wilderness area, but we didn't bother. both trails hovered around 7-8000 feet in elevation. both provided postcard perfect views of emerald bay, cascade lake, and fallen leaf lake. there was an art show in town for the weekend and my beautiful girls scored on some handblown (if you think about it, it's from the mouth actually), glass charms for their necklaces and we-mike and melissa-scored on a handmade pottery-thing in the form of a butter dish. sounds crazy i know, but i'm a discriminating butter dish kinda dad. at the end of each day, melissa and i are washing down the remnants of our dinners with chilled sierra nevada porter in a proper glass made of-you guessed it-glass, still in disbelief and wonderment of the majestic things we're witnessing here at lake tahoe. my in-laws go out to eat leaving team m some quiet, de-briefing, decompressing, family, dinnertime. these are our actual photos of granite lake, emerald bay, and cascade lake, from top to bottom. i think the pink-ish hue in the sky is particulate matter refracting pink lightwaves of the visible roy g. biv spectrum due to the recent forest fires; or, my camera sucks, but i'd like to think it's the former...

Lake Tahoe (West Shore=Best Shore)

wow. you know, when people mention california to me having both mountains and large bodies of water, nothing but indifference filters into my noggin'. i've been there several times and they were all enjoyable. san francisco, santa cruz, boulder creek, yakima, mission viejo, rancho santa margharita (sp?), irvine, los angeles, orange county, fresno (yikes!), bakersfield (double yikes!!) but nothing moved me more than the california-side of lake tahoe. now, the hype equals what i'm witnessing. it wasn't at all what i was expecting, and, as usual, it was my beautiful wife melissa who got the ball rolling for this holiday.
let me say, there's a mental tranquility about road tripping in a quality, reliable auto. between the two of us (melissa and moi), we've procured some fine, european rides. for instance we've owned an ml 430 , an s6 avant, and an a6 avant. the mercedes was fine except when the power steering pump shi* the bed in glenwood (via aspen); and other than making freshly squeezed lemon juice, the audi s6 was, at best, adequate. the a6 gave me the littlest grief. when it was running on all 5 pistons she roared like a finely tuned, turbo-charged lion, but i would never have trusted it on a trip outside of colorado. okay back to the point, melissa has owned one 4runner previous to her current 4runner and it's nothing but uber-reliable (like the way i juxtapositioned a deutsche term referring to a japanese auto?). 100+ temps in nevada with 4 bikes, 5 hominids, and everything but the kitchen sink inside and out she kept delivering whatever our right foot wished. great ride, inside and out.
we (in-laws included) could've done it on a single trip but with kids we split it in two days. it's about 1000 miles, one-way.
the first night was in ely, nv. where, incidentally my son's big toenail fell off. enough said. we arrived in tahoma (sandwiched between meeks and homewood) early evening on the 5th, in time to enjoy a wine and cheese tasting at our b and b. i probably embarrassed melissa since i was so hungry it became a wine and cheese sam's club buffet for my starvin' marvin self. we met some interesting characters there. first was an entrepreneur named john (and his wife) and a workhand at the b&b named skip. john was the gregarious, mild dosage, know-it-all, dude dispensing his biased information useful or not, completely unsolicited to anyone willing to listen or not. if you would've asked him a question he would've pontificated a dissertation free of spite but dripping of sanctimonious testimony. argh. i smiled, but inside my tympanic membranes were self-perforating. what put his karma in check was my son mason taking his daughter's, abigail, playthings and making her cry that annoying i'm-really-not-hurting-cry-but-some-enabling-parent-please-help-me-beaugard-my-erstwhile-playthings-from-this-y-chromosome-possessor cry. yeah mason (okay, i'm supposed to the good parent?)!
once we check into our cottage, bob (my father in-law) and i check out homewood for groceries and bask in the newness of being somewhere completely different. in town, i buy a duvel ale for later consumption with melissa for celebratory purposes. if y'all have never drank any trappiste ale concoction(s), truly you're not putting/using your olfactory bulbs to full use (it's like the volume control knob going to eleven versus ten). if you're a beer snob, you drink it in a proper belgian, wide-mouthed ale glass, wide enough for this unfiltered nectar made from monks to exhale. i'd drink pbr in a pinch too, so don't think i'm a beer snob (okay, i am). here's a picture of the interior of our "cottage". pretty isn't it? obviously the snow picture is of said cabin's exterior except in the winter.

04 July, 2007

The Firecracker 50 (revised)

yeauh! kenny, grant, and i raced the 50 today. one word: pain. okay here's how it unfolded. the racer's are also participants in the parade. back in the day it was just one big group; but this event's so huge (it's also a national qualifier for marathon mountain biking national chump and world's qualifier), we had to start in waves according to our categories. that meant i didn't get to ride with my teammates jared, lance, and kenny (who's also my bud-row), and my college roommate, grant. my category's sport men 40-49. i think i was the only doofus in my category who rode a hardtail. it was neutral start and attendance of the parade i think (per the announcer) was 5k. it was awesome. kids were lined up gauntlet-style with their hands out to sideways-five us, the racers. it was cool. once the lead vehicle pulled over, the mayhem started. normal strategy is to go chilly-chill first lap then turn on the afterburners come lap 2. i was feeling good and i went faster than i should've on the first lap. walked a wee bit before the scree field and the super cold snow melt making up the creek crossings. hoowee was it cold! it woke me up and made my feet hurt when you pedal with wet feet on a carbon footbed for 5.5 hours. on the scree downhill the singletrack was so skinny that if you went over, you weren't going to stop anytime soon. it was like balancing on the high wire. any little bobble would be kinda fatal or at the very least, painful and expensive. lap two comes 'round and i'm in survival mode. i shoot hate rays out of my eyes on the one lappers that go blazing past me in clean kits whereas all the two lappers are filthy with mud and dust. so a fifth of the way up on the second lap i hear somebody doing a rawhide, round'em up yeehaw. it's my complicitor kenny telling me to get on the train. the train for the laypeople out there is a term where you can sit-in while people (other than yourself) is yanking the pace along and you can motorpace/draft off of them free of momentary guilt (to rest a wee bit) to increase your speed (eventually you'll have to pull...). the train is different from the bus. the bus refers to a group of people off the back (not in the lead group) that forms a gaggle for the sake of survival (e.g. the group of sprinters in the tour de france who can't hang with the climbers-all arounders). the train is being driven by kenny, his new buddy from broomfield and a really fit and cute one lapper homegirl. they are cranking. i accelerate (if you want to call it that) to sit-in and my vastus medialis on my left leg starts to cramp. not good. so i say, "thanks, but no thanks", and i get into my survival rhythm once more. that's the last i saw of kenny. he was now officially flying uphill and downhill to the finish.
on the downhills if you didn't ride the correct line, the rocks-centered mostly on the natural fall line of the bike-are large enough that it would easily catapult you into a tree or taco your tire (or both!). you had to follow the beaten path singletrack or else. people were flying! i was passing people, people were passing me. it was amazing. due to the camber of the trail i had to fight not going into the middle where all the big rocks were. i almost biffed it once. i had to do a major bunnyhop to avoid taco'ing my tire and avoiding bodily harm. i start remembering the singletrack and this is my note to self that i'm close to the end. my goal now is to pass this small group of six or so riders ahead of me so i can establish my hierarchy in the narrow singletrack. it would be foolish to pass on this so i need to get in front of them to improve my overall placing. furthermore, i'm in this personal, friendly battle with another competitor in my category who's sporting a gary fisher sugar and we're trading places. i lead on the ups, he leads on the downs. it is a race and other than being polite verbally, your goal is to beat your competitors in your category (while also having a good time). i'm spent from passing the six uphill and as luck would have it, the gary fisher dude throws a chain on the inside. i say something complimentary to him as i pass. here comes the gnarly, final singletrack downhill and i'm riding the brakes to avoid crashing. my forearms are losing it but thank god here comes the finish line. i look behind me to see if anybody's going to ninja me out of my placing, no one's there so i just soft pedal to the finish line, looking like i went 15 rounds with mike tyson, pumping my right fist (non-verbally gesturing, "if you do that again!...")in the the air as i cross the line. kenny being the good friend that he is greets me at the finish line. he's probably been waiting more than 10 minutes (as of now, the results aren't yet posted on-line). i greet grant's lovely wife christina at the finish line, after our salutations, she's bustin' out the binoculars looking for her betrothed. grant finishes about 10 mins behind me.
we grab some food and proceed to eat. when kenny's angling for another beer, i see tinker juarez at the cannondale tent. i also get his autograph and we talk a bit. what a great guy. he was one of my early mountain bike heroes when i began to cycle competitively. he has crazy rasta-dreadlocked hair and is probably one of the most approachable and nicest guys that races bikes for a living. what a great way to end the day. i-70 was like a ghost town on the way back to d. tomorrow, we're off to lake tahoe (and it's forest fired self), so i'm cutting this short so mr. sandman can visit me.
addendum to blizzy-blog. here are the official results with splits for grant, kenny l., and yours truly. scroll to sport men 35-39 for g-ster and kenny l. and sport men 40-49 for moi. kenny drilled his first 50. way to go kenny! i'm daydreaming of a moots soft-tail (not the singlespeed version picture above) for next year's 50....
here's our gastrocnemius muscles labelled according to our category. can you figure out who's who from our calves (sorry for the blatant, not-so-subliminal bit of consumerism)? the topmost picture's a self-portrait of team ill after the fact...

26 June, 2007

When Good Grouse Go Bad!

jeez! today, cycling mount falcon, i got attacked by a fowl creature. namely a grouse! it all started by doing a 2 hour ride (it turned out to to be 1h 50 min actually) at falcon. billy told me a target time to the top-ladies and gentlemen that's what's called an alliteration-(to gauge/compare my fitness with one of our acquaintances) of 37 mins so i based my perceived work efforts on that. busted a sub-37 without redlining because i wanted to get in a climbing/power workout today. usually if it's hot, i die; but today was nice and cold so i was powering up pretty good. at the top i keep riding towards parmalee trail, do that in the middle ring, get to the top and do the ute trail. when we first moved to colorado, sweet melissa pronounced ute, "ooo-tay". it's actually pronounced "yoot" from a proper noun referring to a native american tribe. whenever i see that sign that's what always pops into my cerebral cortex and i smile-anyhoo, it's on ute where i get attacked. ute is cool because there's a couple or so technical uphill parts that you have to power/finesse through to clear it. after the techy stuff i see this healthy looking grouse to my left. being the animal lover that i am i slow down to give it the right-of-way. well, this beeyatch slows down too. then i speed up. this fowl creature speeds up too. this punk muh-fuh was sizing me up for an attack. so before i could get off the bike to use the bike as an over sized bat to bust a home run on this puffer fish wannabee freak, it propels itself, all puffer fished bloated with feathers all outstretched, beak first a la hostile projectile at my thoracic/facial area. whereupon survival instincts take place and i turn my head sideways and bust out a kung-fu hand buzzsaw routine david carradine would've been proud of. needless to say it hit my manly pectorals and i shriek out a string of f-bombs and other useful expletives in its name. hominid vs a wannabe chicken. what a nutty encounter. adrenaline's flowing and i rock the tower trail, granite steps and all. other than this close encounter with a freak grouse, the ride's pretty successful...

16 June, 2007

winter park series race #2: mountain circuit

talk about late-a$$ start times...how's about 12:20? kenny suggested we upgrade our category to expert in order to race early and leave early. i wanted to defend my g.c. and win the schrader valve inner tube when the series is over, so i suggested we just chill and race our respective sport categories. i raced expert once in texas because i missed the sport start time. came in dead last. his suggestion brought up some painful memories. anyhoo, since we (we being kenny, his niece amber, and moi) were there ugly early we looked at some of the single-track we were going to encounter. it was gnarly. whoever picked the course must've had an evil streak. not really, it was quite an exquisite piece of single track. it contained: off camber uphill and downhill switchbacks, tree roots, super pointy, angular rocks, tree roots, berms, mud boggy sections, tree roots, super-tight single track, 800 or so feet of climbing per lap (we did two), tree roots, bridges, fire roads, altitude starting at 9K feet and getting close to 10K feet, and did i mention tree roots? it was awesome. the only complaint i had was a corner marshall zoning out and i missed a turn whereby two people passed me. the downhills were sick! i got passed twice on the downhills by hardtails, that's how skillful and fit my competition is (mens sport 40-44). there were about 40 or so in my class today and it began with an uphill start. just like last week, it's fast and i'm redlining 15 minutes into it. if i just hold on, i know the profile plateaus so i suck it up 'til then. the closest thing to describing it is like apex park's enchanted forest except ramped up to an expert's only terrain, stretched out over 8 (x2) miles. it was awesome. the only drag were people dabbing i.e. people who couldn't clean the uphill technical sections resulting in log jams (because we were drafting each other super close). i came in 13th, six seconds (in 13th place) slower than my homeboy and teammate kenny who raced it on his all-mountain rig weighing close to thirty pounds. my overall g.c. remains unchanged at 5th overall. on the way back, i-70 eastbound was shutdown because a tractor trailer rig crashed near the hidden valley exit and fell onto a honda element. i called c-dot and they said in addition to the crash, that a flight for life helicopter was on its way. scary. if you look closely at the picture, right above the roofline of the sheriff's car you'll notice the upside down element with its wheels in the air. nutty huh?
the quote of the day was from my complicitor kenny who said on our way home, "jeez mike did you smell that mud? that was some stinky ass mud!" to be honest, i didn't notice that stinky mud, but it did get all over my kit and my beautiful yeti. yessir, i noticed that...

12 June, 2007

long live the jeffco public library (evergreen branch)!

scored on 2 really beautiful pieces of music at my public library. so, instead of sounding like a pretentious music connoisseur, let me say, "it's da shizzle y'all." here's what one person said of wayne shorter's speak no evil. blah (scroll down to notes section). this album's after mr. shorter recorded with miles, so it's not quite as experimental and he teamed up with jazz's most badass supporting cast to create a more focused, improvisational sound (sorry, i sounded like a pretentious connoisseur).
here's what somebody else said about calexico's feast of wire:
blah. what can i say other than living in tucson can make one's brain(s) work mysteriously, creatively, and independently-spirited? yup. if y'all don't like these pieces go out and buy brittney spear's box set and waste your time trolling for honeys on your myspace account...
addendum to blog: lest we forget (my apologies to the pow motiff here), i also scored on my friend alec's suggestion of pavement's slanted & enchanted, except it's the special 2 disc set with biblical proportion liner notes and all the b-sides one could wish for if you're a pavement fan. read some biased reviewers blah-blahs here. as a science teacher, i'm off for the summer so here begineth my daddy daycare routine. i wouldn't trade it for a pinarello paris (or at least i'd think about it for more than a pico-second). check out the above pic of this beauty...later y'all.

09 June, 2007

the winter park series inaugural hillclimb

ah yeauh. planned this event since the end of our school year...i've heard that it's one of the best race series around since we've moved here but never participated until now. the cool thing too, is, my colleagues and homeboys hez-chilly and alec also raced it. i believe this is both their first mt bike race too. how cool is that? we rode this past weds at apex and billy and alec weren't feeling it at the end of the ride (to do the hillclimb). billy decided to do it anyhooz with his son; this change of heart, according to alec, was enough to swing his wishy-washiness to commit. so 6:30 ante meridiem, today, we meet at the break place in morrison. with alec and i in my tacoma and hez chilly and hogan in the ridgeline we roll over to winter park. my start time's at 10:36 (and alec and billy's about 10 minutes apart) so we all have enough time to register and donate our monies to the corporate behemoth we all know and love: starbucks. the nutty thing about this mountain bike race is that they allow 'cross bikes. hello. this is a mountain bike race? so. note to self, "i'ma cheat next year and roll in my 'cross machine."
when i stage i notice my category, sport men 40-44 combined with the 45-49 is huge, and, to boot there's a 'cross (dresser) biker in my field as well. uncool. the announcer counts us down and we're off. it's like a criterium start and everybody's lining up in descending skill level. oh look who's in front, 'cross boy...the lead group's tear drop shaped and i'm pulling caboose at the southern end of the teardrop. the pace is high and starting at 9k feet can be physiologically challenging (read: either, or, both lungs and legs'll start screaming). we're middle ring climbing and noboby's changing positions and my legs are boinin'!!! if i continue at this pace i'ma gonna pop! so i back off and establish my own rhythm. i can see up ahead (they're--the 15 or so riders--are about 10 meters ahead of me) people are popping too. there's a guy in an old school, pink, once jersey (it's a spanish bank, pronounced OWN-say, espanol for eleven...)whom i target for no apparent reason to try and catch (maybe it's because he's wearing an old school, pink, once jersey). the gap from once dude who's 5 meter behind the lead group is staying consistent at around 10 meters. at this point the gaggle of 15 is now discontinuously, single-filed. i increase my torque spin and i'm closing the gap. i keep it in the middle ring and once dude's spinning the little'un. i catch and pass him and because i'm a roady i conceal my breathing to let him know it was effortless to catch him (when in reality i'm redlining). this inspires me to increase my rpms and drop it into a more difficult gear. now i'm passing all manner of people but i don't know who's now in my category because we're catching all manner of other categories. we catch the expert women and hey! i pass the 'cross dresser. i'm pumped now and i rock the bike out of the saddle on the crest of a small hill onto a flat section where i'm spinning the middle (chainring) small (cog). i think i'm at least top ten now and with the last switchback in sight followed by a steep riser i see people dropping it into their granny. i keep it in my middle and pass a whole slew of other people. i look down at my watch and i pull a low 45 minute time. excellent. my goal was a 40 something because alec and his analyzing self figured out by comparing his gps profile with another local climb similar to this (not comparable length-wise but rather elevation gain-wise), that a 40 something would be comparable to 50 something at our local climb. he also predicted from billy's time at our local digs that billy could potentially podium. in fact, billy was a minute and change off of a podium finish. yea math and science! after i finish i ride down the hill to see my boys. alec's drilling it and i yell at him to pass this last rider, which he does! his goal is to do it in under an hour. he was a minute off. next comes billy, looking strong crunching his middle ring on the climb. last but not least comes hogan, riding like a man doing this hella-hillclimb at age eleven. righteous. this blog entry's picture is lunch rock (aka the finish line) in winter (obviously). it's a pretty exposed ridge at 11.2k feet, just a smidge below colorado's treeline (which is 11.5k feet). cruel? maybe. fun? ah yeauh.
at the bottom of the hill, after the hillclimb, billy has this scary, omniscient side of him that if he uses it for evil, we'd all be in trouble. he's angling for us to wait for the free shwag give-away because "we will win" he says, if "we're patient." and sure enough as the minutes tick off we're winning some choice shwag. alec wins a chain cleaner and koobi saddle coupon worth $140. billy wins a $20 gift certificate at a local seafood grill and i win a $20 gift certificate at an organic deli, along with a white lightning compass/whistle combo (what the shnap is that concoction?). so, with certificates in hand we have lunches free of charge. how cool is that? this hillclimb turned out to be very satisfying in terms of culling an honest race effort from the participants--us--and the returns from this effort via lovely shwag. check out my times here. i'm officially in 5th place overall in my category. maybe i should do the xc race next week just to defend my ite general classification (this is what roadies call g.c. pronounced jee-see)?

23 May, 2007

Enough Already!

you know, it's bad enough a tree smacked our chimney off the roof's foundation. it's the 23rd of may for crying out loud! the high tomorrow's going to be in the sixties! jeez! i'm tired of being cold and scraping snow off my and my wife's car! yes, i'm bellyaching! that's my god given right (to bellyache)! ite den, people. good night and good luck...

19 May, 2007

saturday's peregrination with g-ster and kenny l.

started the day buying doughnuts for my family's breakfast before i met up with my riding posse for the golden, co trifecta (green mt., red rox, and apex-no figure eight). got a call from alec saying he couldn't make it. sahhhite (read: that's okay). it was going to be long, hard day for me anyway because the three of us were getting miles and saddle time for the beloved firecracker 50. alec probably could've hung with us at green mountain though.
when we all meet up at the rooney road trail head parking, i peeps that grant now owns a 29'er. cool. i was really impressed by the whole 29'er scene at the 18 hours of fruita. he had the racer-x version of the titus line. at green mountain he's off and climbing like a fiend. apparently he's pretty fit. kenny and i are off the back chatting knowing that if we try to match his pace we aren't going to finish the two other trails. green mountain trail volume was full. bikers and hikers in all manner of dress and fitness were out there enjoying the ultra-violet radiation therapy. kenny was killin' it in his all-mountain bike, climbing like he was on a hardtail or something. pretty impressive. he lets it run on the fire road descent. my hardtail capabilities were floored trying to stay in his draft. i wish we had a speedometer. i haven't descended that fast since i owned my specialized fsr xc. at that speed if i had to bail there would've been permanent disfigurement...we even dropped grant at kenny's downhilling speed.
we hit the zorro trail to descend into red rocks. we go over kenny's favorite spot: dakota ridge. not really, he can't stand that part of red rox. we cross the road to actually go into the red rox complex. my chain's really dry at this point (guess that's what i guess for using a dry lube--it's like dry cleaning, go figure) and whenever i have to quickly bail into the small chainring, it comes completely off and i have to dismount to manually put the chain back on. drag. oh, and some freds see us coming and from their rest they get back on their bikes and pedal quickly away. grant sees this and ups the pace and i do too. we catch the last guy and the other guy's caught when we cross the street again. grant's climbing like a fiend again and kenny and i are at our own, slower pace mode. we go up the easy saddle at red rox. on the way down, some dude wants to pass, so we let him. after he passes us i glue up to his wheel and he's really not that fast. grant and i are pacelining behind him nascar-like and we wait for kenny at the fork. at the bottom we hit the head and go on the road to apex park. kenny winds it up on the road and grant and i tuck in behind his slipstream. at apex, since kenny and i know all the technical spots grant dismounts and we slowly catch up to him. he takes off again and waits for us at the first fork. after the enchanted forest exit, i go off the front and lead for a while. i was definitely on the way to being extra crispy finished at this point. i lead it all the way to the fork to chimney gulch and i'm done and out of water to boot. i think grant was just actively resting behind me on that climb. in the enchanted forest my yeti is telling me to do bad things and i let her run. put a nice size gap on g and k and wait for them at the footbridge. from that point on i lead the downhill and with kenny riding my behind we scream down towards heritage square. kenny's bike, i think, tells him to do bad things as well. kenny mentions that on the downhill he notices that i descend like a pinball, and i tell him that i descend like i mogul ski. the bumps control where i go and i steer reactively and generally plan my fall-line 20 to 10 meters when i bike and ski respectively. kenny says he could've descended faster but didn't want to risk going for the pass. there's really no comparison during the descent at apex between a hardtail and a dually. this reminds me of the descents at breckenridge when i was flying and passing all manner of dually's but at the bottom i had to stop and physically stretch my lower back. fun.
on the way back to zorro via red rocks, i cramped on the road in front of the la farge stone quarry. i ate my last triple threat power bar (chocolate, caramel, and peanuts) and voila, the cramps dissipated. incidentally the triple threat gave me a mean case of the number twos. i was last climbing that hellish fire road to go zorro; but once the downhill technical portion came up i blasted that. back in the parking lot we all agreed it was a blast. grant's so hardcore he did another lap at green mountain while kenny and i had a burger and fries at the blue moon eatery in morrison after the wait staff took their sweet time with everybody else (those overworked bastidges!). total ride time: 3H 8 mins. total time: a smidge under 4h.
it's monday and my legs are still done, hence the picture of the fork.