26 January, 2008

A Cold but Fun Ride W/ Teammates

sure they're teammates but they're also my friends. specifically it's my boys kenny and chris. it was close to 50 degrees when we met at chris' house. chris showed us his latest domestic disaster when his upstairs neighbor's dishwasher sprung a humongous leak.
with the help of gravity it completely busted through the plaster and lathe ceiling into his kitchen. poor guy. chris is taking it pretty well and hoping that the corporate juggernaut that's called insurance'll do its part in making it right.
our goal today was to do a chilly-chill ride (no pun intended)-all small chainring-to get the arse used to hours sitting and to apply watts to the pedal in real time conditions (not the rollers i've been using since it became cold). the snow and melting snow was a wee bit of a factor and an annoyance-especially in our hindquarters. of course none of us brought our fenders-oh well.
it's been a while since i rode in denver and i forgot how hip the place is. the residential architecture, the trees, the closeness to very urbane things, it's really a great area to live, mile-high style. the butt shot picture of my teammates is at a park with a plagiarized name of washington park (of ny fame). check out the snow that's still malingering...okay, we ride out to the chatfield reservoir on bike trails and there's a lot of people on the trails enjoying the sunny climes. we talk about the latest presidential race and chris is on a diatribe about the democratic front-runner hillary clinton. he's just ranting and raving and at a certain point i realize it's a unilateral discussion. kenny and i were kinda chuckling about his blinders=opinion train of thought. it's like trying to argue logically about creationism vs. evolutionary theory (i'm a science teacher). you can't argue your point with someone who believes in an afterlife. so kenny and i do the mutual non-verbal communication of one twirling ones' index finger around an ear, mutual mind melt. that's why we love that christopher...
2/3rds of the ride (back home) kenny's completely jonesing for a doughnut. not any ordinary doughnut but a lamars doughnut. as (lack of) luck would have it, they've closed minutes before we arrived. instead we go to my favorite corporate coffee joint-starbucks. i'm all for ma and pa outfits but for conveniences' sake, it hits the spot. i order a double espresso and a blueberry coffee cake-there goes the fat burning aspect of our ride.
i tried to get fancy with the picture of us soaking some uv radiation patio-side using the solarizing effect. going left to right, it's kenny, me, and christopher. not very artsy huh.
it was a good three hour ride today. i don't think we even busted the 40-mile mark we were going so darn slow. in fact, i think a south american sloth past us when we were going downhill. i'm going to attempt a hill climb ride tomorrow in golden. hopefully the 60 year-old guy wearing jeans riding the 100 pound mountain bike with the 1970s skid-lid won't pass me! oh yeah, eat more vitamins (shameless wasn't it?)! there's the official 4h team ride tomorrow but i can't make it due to familial (linked to temporal) obligations. that's okay though, my family's pretty righteous.
funny quote of the day: when we were in starbucks some girls were looking at us. not because we're especially handsome (per se) but we're grown men wearing matching, spandex outfits steeped in garish purples and oranges. it must be visually nutty to spectate for non-cyclists. so to explain the interest in us kenny explains (with complete deadpan delivery), "chicks dig me. i'm kind of a big deal." kenny's probably the most humble guy we know so christopher and i get a big laugh out of his chick magnet hypothesis.

20 January, 2008

Brother in-law to the Rescue!

well kids, i thought i had enough firewood to last us until april; but no, we were close to running out this week. the fireplace is our main source of heating up here. our house is pretty much a glorified cabin; but boy what a cabin it is surrounded by five acres of evergreens at 8800 feet of elevation! the wee bit of firewood is the before picture-until scotty came down to help. if that's the trade-off of living up here versus creature comforts of heat, i'll take it 100% of the time!
i had a grand idea to use the atv to go down to our back yard (and a lovely backyard it is-just look at that picture!) to fetch the wood and leave it all to the glory of the internal combustion mule; but, the snow's so deep i got it stuck twice even before i descended into the backyard. i did the one-man, reverse, hand-on-the-throttle, pulling it (while standing next to the atv) until i had traction.
i had to resort to the rocky IV strategy of snowshoeing to the backyard and picking up the cut trees the previous owners downed for the fire zone of safety (remember when rocky was training to fight the russian and trained in a barn in the middle of the siberian taiga for his workouts?) and hand carry it to the work area. i sunk to my knees even using the snowshoes. it was only until the 5th or so round trip that my snow path was compressed enough so that i could walk normally, carrying my posts. before scotty came i hand carried ten posts. when scotty came, he strapped on some snowshoes and we picked up eight more. i couldn't do anymore and have energy to cut and quarter the posts, so we quit the hand carrying business and went to chopping. so we divided the workload: i cross-sectioned the trees with my lovely stihl chainsaw (the quintessential hillbilly tool) and he quartered the big posts with the axe and splitting maul.
when we were done we were quite satisfied with our days' efforts. it was: a nice stack of wood outside and wood flanking our minuscule firebox for a week's worth of heating (if you look carefully you'll see our lovely german shepherd, adela). a cold front's coming in tonight and it's quite a mental relief that we'll comfortably ride it out (plus, if worse comes to worse, it bought me time to either a) buy firewood to haul in my truck or b) bust out the rocky IV version 1a again in-between the cold snaps). nothing like an honest day's effort hanging with my brother in-law who's a pretty cool fellah. ite den. next time i'll wrestle a bear, buy a bowie knife, and sport a coon skin hat (sans pants!).
for a musical sidebar, i scored on these cool sonic gems (from the jefferson county public library nonetheless!): rufus wainwright's debut album (rufus is an interesting fellah...), mingus' the black saint and the sinner lady (mingus is nutty enough, this i can hang with), broken social scene's feature of kevin drew's spirit if..., and the new pornographer's twin cinema (you gotta love neko case y'all!). you can click on their respective reviews on my links here in my blog's margins if you're interested in checking out something different and non-formulaic.

16 January, 2008

It's Ffffreeeeezing Up Here!

ite den. two pictures: a thermometer and john coltrane's blue train. not mutually exclusive but a nutty juxtaposition of two objects nonetheless...
okay. the thermostat displayed this number when i came home. the top number (in fahrenheit) is the interior number and the bottom number-the negative 4-is the outside temp. we're experiencing a three-day deep freeze up here at 8800 feet in sunny colorado in the middle of winter. yup. it's cold kids.
now coltrane...on the way home i stopped at my most favorite used cd joint near my work. i saw three artists-used that is-that might make the purchasing cut. they were: matthew sweet, modest mouse, and they might be giants. for grins and giggles i check out the used jazz, and lo and behold mr. coltrane whispers, "buy me machmoud!" not only is it blue train (arguably mr. coltrane's second-most popular album done in the hard bop sound), but it was re-mastered in 1997 by rudy van gelder (notice the rudy van gelder print on the spine of the cd?)-blue note's most accomplished sound engineer. ole rudy had the penchant for recording resulting in a warm yet brilliant sound at the expense of the piano's sound. all this sonic righteousness for the $6.99. oooo-weeee! now that's why i love this place. brrrrr. i better tend the fire kids....

12 January, 2008


hey kids, went to winterpark w/ alec today. my kharma must be good because today was another exceptional day. we parked in the mary jane side, a stone's throw away from the lift. alec had a two for one lift pass coupon he cashed-in and for $40, it's world class ski-action. the only bummer about the winterpark side of the mountain is that there's a butt-load of poling to do because some of the stretches of the runs are almost flat. it's even worse for the knuckle dragging snowboarders because they can't skate ski. the colorado ski country has been getting pounded the last couple of months and alec and i benefited from mother nature's bountiful precipitation. after we get our ski legs in we head up to the top of parsenn bowl. we don't ski down parsenn because the high winds have just baked the topmost layer of snow into this concrete/ice hybrid. instead we hit the gladed area to the left of it. we're talking about thigh-high untouched powder (we waited in line like the rest of the powder hounds for several minutes to the only lift that goes up there). how to describe it is like skiing on fluffy, deep, packaging popcorn balls. it was very light and our skis were floating midway up on the surface. the faster you go the higher your skis float. either way it was nutty because you really don't touch the bottom, it's this nutty, almost giddy, floaty feeling coupled with the tactile disconnect with what you're expecting mentally from the contour of the perceived surface. i did a lot of hopping to ensure both skis tracked and i'm sure we had a stuporific, copraphage-esque grin on our windburnt mellons. also mind you, that while we're descending this fluffy mental disconnect, it's in this cute little glade of trees. not officially tree banging but in wide avenues between groves. okay, so now we go back up to the parsenn bowl because alec thinks that the flipside has bowls so we ski, skate ski, and slide-step uphill to get a nice drop-in. we ask a guy in front of us if there's a bowl in this new area of winterpark and he says, "no, just trees and deeeeep snow." holee mackeral. now we're officially tree banging in snow up to our ding-a-lings. it's deeeeeeep and the trees keep us honest. in this part you really can't do wide s turns, or else you'll smack a tree and worse you'll be a skiing statistic. the best strategy is to go straight and scrub speed if you can't see an exit route (i.e. a tree dead-end) to the bottom. once we hit the flat part, it's so pristine that we follow lines depressed in the powder from previous skiers to get out. from this point, we're basically cross-country skiing-using as much energy from poling as we do skate skiing to get out. it's completely otherworldly. it looks like a scene from grimms' fairy tale with these crazy looking branches ripe for bursting with all the accumulated snow on it and powder snow (again, up to our ding-a-lings) on either side of the route. wow. it's almost spiritual it's so surreal and amazingly sunny.
doing this takes us to noon. we're getting pooped out so we ski mary jane again with a run alec spies that has both moguls and a bail-out. we hit the moguls and this is what i notice about our styles. alec keeps his upper body pretty silent and slide-bangs the turns. i ski like i'm galloping on a horse and tail slide the bottoms of the bumps to scrub speed. i find a line that will bounce me the least. it's like picking a technical line on a hardtail versus point and shooting on a dual suspension. if you compare our overlap in the venn diagram of styles though, our overlap is this: exhaustion. it's like doing squats, coupled with a 400m track event. completely anaerobic effort. we smile, but boy our legs are busted. we figure three more runs of this pain and pleasure principle and we're outty. sho 'nuff, we bail. we bail only after we hit a local coffee house and our barrista puts some loving into well crafted pieces of latte (long live esspresso-type drinks!).on the way back home we surround ourselves with conversation and a debrief of what we did and a summary of how our school year's going (he's a colleague as well). we talk about early red hot chili peppers, jam to some feist, and some gorillaz. we're batting a thousand on sublime ski outtings complimented with quality homey hangtime...

05 January, 2008

A Nice Surprise from a Long Day!

went on a sort of training ride today. a HUGE front was blowing in today and one of my best friends and teammate, kenny, and i decided to start our ride then. it's almost the height of winter here and we recently had a warming trend. all the accumulated snow is now melting and it's like little rivulets on our normal cycling routes. the picture is what we had to deal with on some of the roads. not too much of a pain if you're prepared. gear like fenders, a boat-load of clothes and base layer, decent tires, good gloves...etc. can make for a tolerable riding shindig near freezing temps (but it was in the 40s when we left!). before we leave, i check kenny's new turntable out. kenny has a pretty nice stereo and when he plays the lps it just sounds lovely. it's enough to make one buy vacuum tube stereo amplification. he plays some cheap trick and some rush before we go. it was a quick time travel back to the days of the mullet, member's only jacket, parachute pants, and kaepa hightops where you cuffed your pants. okay, i digress. we leave his house after we cross a slush-field of once upon a time ice. the front created these nasty winds. we work our way out his little valley with a climb and a nice headwind keeps us honest. to keep us even more honest we're getting self-inflicted spray from our front tires hitting our shins and feet (rear fenders only don't help). this water's cold too! we have booties on to kinda keep our feet water resistant. so we fight the wind for an hour and decide we can go on for another hour if the streets are this wet. the cold's cutting through me and kenny knows of a place that serves some pretty banging coffee. my blood sugar's low so instead of a doppio (a double espresso) i order an italian soda so the sugar can get into my blood quicker. i also order a pastry just to make sure. man that helped. by this time the sun's ducking behind the mountains and i'm running out of clothes. i put on my pvc rain jacket to keep me warm and it does the trick. not very breathable but at least i'm warm. once we get back to his house, kenny gives me a ride in his volvo. you say a volvo? well, this is one highly modified 740 wagon that turbocharged with too many modifications to list. if you're interested he's on my favorite links. check it out. anyhoo once we're on the streets and it's po-po free he lights it up and all 500 horses are unleashed (that's right 500! got it verified at the dyno). he lives near my brother in-law so we go pick him up for a very truncated cruise session in lovely westminster. it was a nice way to punctuate a high-effort day. i'll have to wash my bike later...
so here's the surprise: when i get home i find a good friend of mine-from my air force days-left me a comment on the previous blog. i contact him and we exchange digits for future reference. he's a walking blog entry for sure. quite a character with a heart of gold. we did a lot of gastronomically, spiritually, socially enlightening things when we were usaf europe.
here's another sidebar from today. i subscribe to new york public radio's radiolab podcast (thanks alec) and the latest one is on the fanaticism and myth of wagner's ring series. it was a very enlightening primer on wagner, his use of the leitmotif, brief character study, other wagner-esque nuances any music lover would respect and appreciate. to sum the ring, as quoting jad the host of wnyc's radiolab "the ring is a german, romantic view of norse and teutonic myth influenced by greek tragedy and a buddhist sense of destiny told with a socio-political deconstruction of contemporary society. a psychological study of motivation in action and a blueprint for a new approach to music and theatre." now wouldn't that get you hooked? tomorrow team m goes to a birthday party my middle daughter got invited to.

02 January, 2008

"Who wants to go skiing? Raise your hand!"*

*that's what my kids say when they have something nobody in their immediate circle of friends have and want to make sure-with perfect clarity-that that immediate circle of friends are 100% absent of that something. try it sometime, it'll make you feel...mmmmm...'bout seven or so years of age.
oh yeah. call me lazarus. i was dead (due to a super-nasty flu-type buggy-bug my brother in-law via my sweet melissa gave me), and now i'm alive (but it took 4not 3 days)! so what do you do the first day when you can leave your bed? that's right, you go skiing. skiing on a weekday nonetheless. skiing at copper mountain. i leave pretty early because i have this thing about being (one of the) first(s) in line when the lifts start running at 8:30. there was absolutely nobody there this morning so i warmed up mid-mountain back to base a couple of times to make sure my skis, legs, and brain were acting like a team. my lungs predicated the rest of my time on the mountain (unfortunately). i still have a boatload of phlegm sitting nicely in the bottommost chambers of my lungs...so!.. even though my pistons were willing to get abused, the limiting reagents were my lungs. i have residual fitness from cycling (i'd like to think. okay, i thought about it, and there's absolutely no crossover) in the legs but it felt as if i had a tracheal opening the size of a lilliputian's sphincter (coupled with da phlegm). not a good combination for anaerobic activities. i'd rip a good line, but when a quarter of the sequence i was visioning happened, i'd have to catch a nice, long breather (being proprietarily sound, i didn't exhibit behaviors of extruding liquid shrapnel from the naso-pharynx passageways either). that's when the octogenarians would pass me. i'm not busting on them, it's just the long time locals tearing it up too (i want to be skiing in my twilight years!). i hit the bowls before the crowds got nutty. the karmas love plowing through the semi-chunky, nougat-esque powder/packed powder. too bad i was slowing them down. i'll let you in on a secret: my skis, as well as my bikes (my mountain bike mostly), talk to me. they are the iconic devils that sit on an opposing shoulder to the angel when you have a choice between moderation and full-on indulgence. sadly, i had to stop in-between evil sessions in order to breathe properly. breathing's important for like, aerobic creatures.
on the way back-especially when you fly solo-i go through a mental debrief. what fosters the mental decompression is music. i've been on this wagner bender lately so i listen to his the ring of the nibelungs. to be precise, it's his first one: das rheingold (which, in german means, das rheingold-actually the nibelung is about 16 hours long). incidentally, i've been to the rhein river in wunderbar deutschland (but can honestly say that mosel wine is superior in taste and finish). and after sampling several of the rhine's best auslese (with french fries mit mayonnaise, yum!)i too have seen rheinmaidens in der rhein. wagner's music is large and in charge; but, his arias can be immensely impassioned. every time wotan busts a solo i'm getting chicken skin. including this, my outing to copper mountain was truly audio-visual.
ite den kids. have a lovely 2008 and if you see anybody in a vitamin cottage cycling kit, y'all wave to them with all your fingers, ite? ite.