27 January, 2007

Yup. We live in Colorado...

it was an indescribable day. it was filled with good omens, endorphin poppin' ski-action with good company (alec), sunny skies, and an even gooder (remember i learnt english in tejas) time with the family checking out the whatever annual breckenridge international snow sculpture championships. friday, the day before, was spent checking the noaa website for weather the drive up saturday morning. it forecasted snow last night and a front coming in breck at 11am with gusts up to 39 mph and wind (ch)ill factors ranging from -1 to 3 degrees fahrenheit. we considered bagging it but then we figured skiing is like sex and/or pizza. it might be bad pizza and/or sex but it's still that.
we rendezvous at the evergreen park and ride across from el rancho. the weather is just like noaa forecasted coupled with an atypical amount of traffic volume at i-70, 6:30 in the morning right before floyd hill. not a good start and alec was coming down with the sniffles (ahhh, the joys of being a secondary ed. teacher). good omen numero uno (das right, i'm bilingual and shizzle), after the winterpark turnoff, almost no traffic. good omen dos, we see blue skies behind the eisenhower tunnel. good omen tres, the gondola at the no-longer-free-parking-it-costs-ten-bucks-now is running and we park right underneath it. good omen quattro (i used to own an s-car audi so when i write or say, "quattro" i get all teary eyed) we are first in line at the gondola. all good things unfortunately must come to an end. when alec and i were in the gondola i began to get my gear dialed-in, which included zipping my pant leg over the cuff of my boot. get this, the plastic, male portion of the zipper that inserts into the female portion of the actual zipper, sheared off. and like a dodo, i pull on it and all the zippered portions are now coming unzipped. i bought these pants in the 90s and i don't know what they were thinking with a full zip on the lateral part of the leg up to the waist. anyhoo i was intrigued by the unzipping pattern and by the time i stopped pulling it, my freaking long johns were showing all the way up to my outer thigh. i was wearing my baby blue long johns too (cute for your honey but not to the general public--oi vay). i tried in vane to line up the teeth but alas it was to no avail. so here i am in the gondola with my left leg exposed, showing my baby blue long johns. luckily there was a clothing place at the foot of breck where i purchased some obermeyers that's slightly too big for me (i need a small instead of a medium, oh well).
we do some warm up stuff and over the prime bowl areas we see some clouds start to roll in. so we figure we better hit that stuff now before they close the access lifts for those areas. when we get to the imperial summit, there's a line of people portaging their skis to get to the extreme area (chutes and the 3 or 4 or so bowls back there). i'm not the type who seeks this type of terrain (but hopes that the group doesn't do groomers) but i figure what the heck, alec is a pretty accomplished skier, and we ski within our skill level (if not a smidge past it to get better). if you notice on the picture, the path up is already notched by previous skiers jamming their extruded toe portion of their boot into the snow. on the way up (alec's behind me), we see this ski-hiker fall and i swear while she's actively falling she has this non-plussed look on her face and attitude and is actually talking to the ascending skiers while she's sliding down (saying stuff like she's okay and she'll try it again). it was all slow motion and nutty to boot. alec and i saw the same nuances on this girl and it was straaaange. it looked like the hilary step because of the log jam it caused. the pause in the ascension was due to the some off-camber rocks on the path. if you didn't step way past the little rock abutments in the path, the angle of incidence of your step might be enough to rebound you backwards, or to slip (which was homegirl's case). get this, we're already leaning mightily forward. i was envious of alec's ski-specific camelback that had straps to portage skis. he used his poles as outriggers whereas i right-shouldered my dynastars (thank-you javier), and jammed my two poles in the baked snow, with my left hand, to give my steps a contra-lateral shove-off. it was a physiological feat (no pun intended) to hike in snowboots, carrying gear at mid-11k feet. when we got to the top, alec's spigot (on the camelback) was on and water leaked onto his whole right side. it looked like the abominable snowman spritzed on him to mark him as part of his property (look closely, you can see it on the picture). alec dropped-in first and rocked it and yours truly did likewise. we thought it would be a hop and turn gig all the way down. we were pleasantly surprised by how styrofoam-like the snow was and there was no need to hop-turn. the skis contacted the snow the entire time and it was telegraphic between the brain, ski, movement, snow and the carve. in our mind's eye, it was like we were starring in our own ski video. yes our thighs were burning but you should've seen the smiles on our faces. incidentally, road cycling has no crossover fringe benefits leg-wise in skiing, but holy mackeral that run was sublime...
round two, we do the opposite bowl and we don't have to hike up steep terrain. at 11.5k feet, it's colorado's treeline and at this level, it's all scree. were we want to go, it looks like a saddle (side-view) so we tuck the downhill and portage our skis the rest of the way up, by now we're walking the ridge line. we don't know which bowl to hit so we ask another skier which one has the best snow. seems confident it's this a-way so we follow him. we take off our skis again to walk over a scree field. then lo and behold, like moses looking at the promised land, we see this palavacchini-steep run that's 20x longer with no hidden rocks (here, the rocks are large and conspicuous), and on a bowl, check out the picture. if you've been to the grand canyon and look over the precipice, your body feels like it's entered some electric void. this is how we felt. pictures do it no justice. it was steeper than the imperial chutes, but it was a bowl, so again we turned often and quickly to keep our speed in check and the snow was again, styrofoam-like. good omen cinco: 11am rolled around and the skies were as blue as a colorado day in june. fast forward our break and some mogully attempts but we're jonesing again for that latter bowl run. my legs are cramping so alec agrees to call it quits, for my sake, once we finish this run and i can meet melissa and my kids for the ice sculptures. this time at the top of the saddle the wind is greater than or equal to, gale force winds. the people in front of us (and we) were being buffeted. we thought if it were any stronger we would be blown off the ridge line. all of us had to stop, face leeward and make our ski's surface area as small as possible because they were acting like sails, not to mention we were getting a bead blasted paint job on all exposed skin due to the snow pommeling us. nuhh-teee. once the wind died down, we hit it again and the endorphins are flooding us, and my cramps are telling me to head on down (which we do). on the gondola ride back, euphoria is oozing out of our pores. good omen sies: no one's manning the parking booth when we leave, therefore it's free. after alec and i do our oh so masculine goodbyes, he drops me off in town, i hook up with my family, have a nice lunch and check out the ice sculptures. wow. somebody pinch me....
ps. we're tied for sixth currently in our state's top ten of days snowed, which is 32 (and counting).
check out the rest of the pics on that glorious day on my photosite url.

21 January, 2007

Round 5

okay, we moved out here because we actually like snow, but now i have to be more specific: i officially don't like accumulating snow especially when its sooo windy it creates drifts that are a pain to shovel. we already received 9" with another 3-5" more tonight. hopefully school'll be cancelled. that would be a nice surprise. my neighbor and i did some plowing (me shoveling). the important things were to clear the mailboxes. our postal service dude is kind of on his own schedule.
going a wee bit stir crazy. burned a lot of wood today and shoveled a path to our shed for more wood because the 39 mph gusts blew snow over my old, shoveled paths. was going to ride the rollers, but the shoveling was my workout. if you notice on the picture the snow's actually blowing sideways. i snapped the other picture of the girls hugging ruby, the airedale terrier/dane mix when we were all playing upstairs with the musical instruments. noaa says after tomorrow the highs'll be in the upper 30s here. about time.... the crazy part is, march is the snowiest month.

20 January, 2007


as a dad living up at 8800 feet and socked in snow except where i dug pathways for places like the shed for firewood and the barn as a holding area for junk, weekends can be pretty mundane. but today, the girls are skating this morning at evergreen lake and later going to grandma/grandpa's house and onto the national western stockshow. that means i get to spend time with my boy, mason, today. on tap for today (hope you're sitting down!) is: grocery shopping (oh snap!), going to the jefferson county library to peruse their kids books and cds(who needs iTunes?), cleaning the hizzouse (sorry, i listen to too much rap), AND nap time (aaaaw-shite!).
alone time with one kid is good for me and mason because when all the kids are together it might could spell disaster (sorry i learned my english in texas)if they choose to use their powers for evil instead of good. so, when it's one-on-one time it's special for both parent and child (that's me and mason if you didn't catch that).
my special time today, if i don't lame-out (there's a 50 percent chance of that happening unfortunately), is snowshoeing with mason on the kid kelty backpack, or dragging him on his sled a la rickshaw-action with my hounds in our backyard. we moved from lowry in denver to a 5-acre lot zoned for horses in conifer to escape the keeping-up-with-the-joneses mentality of that area (albeit it had all the conveniences a yuppy could ask for!) and live a more quality, natural life, surrounded by trees where you can't see your next-door neighbor, along with the cast from the movie "deliverance".
what's cool with mason is that he naps. when he naps, daddy naps. or, when masy-mase is napping (you get nutty nicknames for your kids, if you don't have kids that privilege goes to your pet monikers), and if i'm feeling like a cyclist, i might could hop on the rollers and watch the 1998 tour de france for the 90th time and pretend to chase the doper marco pantani up alpe d'huez. i think that's french for "up yours".
the top, left picture is of the girls all duded out for the national western stockshow. the middle picture is of the dreaded rollers that are wearing out my tires like no other (that's my son in the foreground). and the bottom picture is of our backyard. gone are the days of looking into my neighbors yards at lowry (although they were great acquaintances). here's some non-sequitors: the last great book i read was "the places in between" by rory stewart. excellent read, and if i was more secure with my masculinity i would've cried. and currently i'm liking a cd called "blue cathedral" by a band called comets on fire and method man's "4:21...the day after" listen to the latter if your subwoofer needs a workout. the cds were courtesy of the jeffco county library. they're awesome by the way.
tentatively, my friends and i are planning a trip to moab. the cast: kenny l. (not to be confused with kenny g.), hez-billy (teacher of the year and all around yoda master), grunt (formerly known as the artist grant and former college roommate), and alec (a newbie in our science department and a grasshopper in the world of off-road cycling). if it's too cold in moab we'll do the roadie-thang 'round boulder and hopefully won't anger too many hillbillies in their diesel belching dualies. i guess it's the sight of grown men in lycra sporting the purple and orange of the vitamin cottage racing team that gets their adrenalin pumping. speaking of which, i just received via the usps my annual race application renewal form...

18 January, 2007

begin the off-season

I used to live in Plano, TX and was a pretty dedicated road racer for 5 years. I raced for Plano Schwinn, ran by the father of a kid I went to HS school with. After I married my most beautiful wife we moved to Colorado, raised three kids, and began teaching. I was hoping my personal growth wouldn't include girth (30 pound gain). One day, in the classroom, I noticed as I was manually sharpening my pencil, there were parts of my body that were jiggling when I rotated the handle for the sharpener. Not good. Fortunately a colleague fresh from the University of Colorado was a bike racer, and he invited me for a few rides. Now, 30 pounds lighter, this is year three, racing in Colorado (where, incidentally, there is an astronomically high genetic freak to porcine ratio unheard of anywhere but here) with a local team called Vitamin Cottage. Officially I'm licensed and a member of the Vitamin Cottage Cat III (three) and IV (four) team. I'm a lifelong three with no ambition to upgrade due to familial and work constraints and my aversion to real training. When I tell people I have an amateur license they think I'm good; but I tell them, anybody can shell out bucks for a license and have their butt handed to them on raceday (as is my case). I'm currently in the off-season keeping my weight in check and riding the rollers about an hour every other day. This is about as appealing as repeatedly hitting ones head with a ball-peen hammer. Rollers, for you non-cyclists, are a treadmill for bicycles. A drum that is powered by the rolling of the rear wheel is connected to another drum connected to the front wheel via a cable. When torque is applied to the rear wheel (by pedaling)it rotates the front wheel in the same, equal, rotational direction/energy and the rider stays upright due to gyroscopic effects of this synchronized torque. Pretty nutty huh. Problem is, if you're not centered on the drums (by steering) you can fall right off. So this is pretty much what I do until the weather becomes cooperative for actual road riding. Colorado currently is in a wicked cold spell and there's nothing like riding in your own wind-chill induced training ride. My strengths on the bike so far: coasting.
The top most picture is round one of three (so far) blizzards rocking Colorado. 80 inches so far and counting. The middle pic is of me bra, Billy, at Moab near shrimp rock, and lastly, yours truly at a cyclocross race (racing on my yeti mountain bike).