18 January, 2009

amante today

it was supposed to be in the 50's today. how cool is that for weather in colorado in the middle of january? i met at chip's and off we go to amante. it seemed like every other cycling team in boulder had coinciding start times and rendezvous point: amante. it almost felt like the beginning of the first bike race of the season where competitors past catch-up and eyeball each other to see if they've gained any weight over the off-season and for some friendly banter.

there, i met my old college buddy who moved out to boulder after i did. his name's andy and when i raced for texas he raced for baylor; and from that point forward, we became friends. now he's a daddy and still loves to race the road bike. since chip was also in that cycling community from back in the day he also remembered him. he races for another team called rocky mounts. they're a bike rack manufacturer. i think they make trays and wheel forks compatible to both thule and yakima.
so off we go with no formal route planned out (maybe a carbon copy of last week's ride: a fruitloop and the estes climb), just mosey down the road, in a double paceline. after several miles on 36, the group ride from gateway pass us on the left. we soon incorporated our pack of six with their pack of at least 30. we were flying down the road and my goal was to not take an immediate pull because i needed to save myself for the return trip where everybody likes to go as if their hair's on fire.
i ask ross-whom i just recently learned is a cat 1-where this group's going and he said to carter lake. carter lake's a 65 mile round trip, but somebody said we did closer to 75 (this is after the fact mind you). from carter lake the hardcores go into estes park. at the light in lyons, we usually go left but the pack was so large and our little group was buried right in the middle-a righty instead-so it's off to carter lake we go. chip actually made it right outside carter lake entrance. good job. it was definitely tempo pace. what makes this ride interesting are the stiff crosswinds out and back, the push up the moderate elevation gain into the lake as if it were the world championships, and the shit-on-your-neighbor mentally for the return trip (i love it though, that's why i race-or try).
after you make the left into the little housing area you can see the zig-zaggy uphill switchbacks. it's a pretty stout, short-ish climb so all the billy goats and general badasses get to the front and apply some fierce wattage to their pedals. maybe it's a three mile climb but the winds always make the survivors lump into echelons at the top. i tried to hang with the lead climbers but lost contact after the first switchback. from there it was climb within my limit-pace. once we reach one of the plateau's to the summit, i hit the back of a pack and i'm content to sit and begin the mental break of settling in. all of a sudden andy taps me on my left hip and he's drilling the big ring. soon the rest of our vitamin cottage three team kinda coalesced so it's off to the races (to catch the leaders). we had a pretty sweet rotating paceline going with andy, rich, kenny, jim, and me snarfing up the flotsam from the lead group's accelerations. at the top the leaders wait for the rest of us. so i fire off this picture.

the downhill's pretty safe and our regrouped pack heads on down the road again. after a while we (vitamin cottage) realized that we missed our turn to head back into boulder. the rest of the group's heading off for more climbing, destination: estes park. kenny, rich, jim, and me (after following 'em for a couple'a miles) pull a u-turn and head back-maybe that's what put us to 75 miles total. it's just us four pacelining back to boulder when we see a lone rider. we invite him to sit in and get out of the wind because we're friendly like that. up ahead at an intersection we see a group of riders splintered from the original group turn in front of us. rich says let's catch 'em so we all punch it forming a quick, rotating paceline where, temporarily, the lead guy pulls off and eases the watts right after he passes the second-to-last guy. unfortunately we drop the guy we just picked up due to the sense of urgency this acceleration brought on. lo and behold we're on the back of this group.
this new group's setting a pretty fast pace too. there's this itty-bitty hill on the way back that cracks me. the cramps introduce themselves to both my legs and i'm off the back ugly. kenny drops back-being the good guy, teammate, fit dude to pace me back on. it's all good too but the pace now starts dropping people so this big group's now whittled down to the fast(er) riders. i was impressed by the emergence of kenny and rich's form.
they're up front taking monster pulls and jim is drilling it too. jim's a 45 year-old master rider who's getting 300 mile weeks. unheard of. i barely got those kind of miles when i was a single dude attending university. what happens next is i do my thomas voekler impersonation yo-yo'ing off the back and doing the missing man formation so as to notify the paceline drop-offs i'm not participating in the rotation. i'm dying at this point so my teammates being the good stellar guys they are drop back and protect me from the sidewinds. after i get a break we see that we're about a kilometer from the group we fell off (they must've eased just a bit) and they ask me if i can hang on if they up the pace. i say yes so we're marching the big ring again. i actually participate in the rotations this time. as luck would have it they get stopped at a light; but the red light's not very long so we're 10 car lengths back when they go then the light turns red. rich and i run the red and rich says, hang on. he takes this humongous pull and we're back on along with kenny and jim. with about ten miles left i'm truly cooked and i remark to kenny again on how his and rich's form is really coming along today.
in fact instead of steroids, i see this on their legs (this is actually one of kenny's project car's engine; impressive no?).

kenny drops back to ride slow with me to boulder. we both remark on how painful our arses are due to a long day in the saddle for the first time this year. like i mentioned previously, when it was all said and done we probably did 75-80 miles in 3h and 30 mins. not blazingly fast but respectable for so early in the season. i ate three energy bars during this session and ran out of water. i need more dietary supplementation in my water bottles i think. back in boulder, kenny stops at spruce confections-a local bakery with decent coffee and organic snacks in order for us to increase our glycemic indices. i get a soda pop and he gets a latte with a spiffy design on top of the creme and a cookie. i snap this picture of him talking to another gearhead about his new 15 large (yes $15,000) transmission he just recently installed on his 400+ horsepowered porsche 914.

time to capture dem free radicals...

17 January, 2009

Lookout Mountain-Mt. Vernon Loop

here's a birds-eye view of colorado school of mines' athletic fields on my way up.

hey kids. it's the beginning of a three day weekend. my goal? get in equal to or greater than 10 hours of cycling in three days. yeah i know. i run the risk of CNS burnout by going too fast at the beginning of the season but i figure since i start work again in july? what the hey-hey.
got in 2.5 hours today. it was a mellow ride. when i mean mellow, even though it was climbing a popular ride-lookout mountain-in golden, co (the home of coors beer-that's that factory looking thing in the background of topmost picture-and an unsuccessful congressional run by pete coors) my goal was to go so mellow that if i just decreased my watts by .00001, i'd fall over sideways. that was my goal. the weather was supposed to be in the fifties and it was truly glorious. still dressed as if it was winter: double jerseys, arm warmers, legs warmers, full-fingered mountain bike gloves, and a beanie under helmet but no booties. didn't really need neoprene booties today. here's my view(s) up the climb out of morrison into golden. it's near the world famous red rocks amphitheater where U2 played their sunday bloody sunday video in the rain.

i stuck to my goal because somebody on the climb up morrison glued up to my wheel and was content to suck it. usually since i possess a y-chromosome i'da upped the wattage to dish out some discomfort but no, i chilled and listened to a new cd i just ripped onto my iPod: the fiery furnaces' widow city. excellent cd. well, excellent if you're a deerhoof fan. in my generalization of music, it's like deerhoof except the gal actually sings. it has a start/stop nuanced tempo with a slightly distorted bass and drum line. pretty coo' though.
you know when you see a slight increase in the slope of the hill your currently climbing? so to prepare for it-instead of going out of the saddle and quasi-sprinting-you increase your rpms (seated) thereby also increasing the gyroscopic effect of your (pedaling) mass creating a kinetic condition where (it mentally seems like) your self-propelled increasing velocity punches you nicely over the increasing slope (i.e. the push pull of your pedaling is one with the universe)? he kinda faded during that section but caught up with me at the stop light. i didn't talk to him. i was in evil, dickhead roady with-the-iPod-earbud mode. i probably would've chatted but he didn't line up next to me, rather he lined up behind me at the light.
it was beautiful day. it was completely agreeable to my chilly-chill mode of climbing lookout. fast forward to the climb and the first notable pictures are of these para-gliders hooking up with convection currents, happily defying the law of gravity.

here's a solo guy. i can't even begin to imagine what sort of endorphin release's going on in this guy's mellon.

the more i climb the colder it gets and the closer the snow boundary gets to the road. as i approach these two riders doesn't it look cold (hell yes it was cold!)? this guy had exposed knees! silly mountain biker (oh yeah, i'm a mountain biker...). check out the snow near the shoulder and the lack of sunlight since we're in a northern part of the climb.

at 98% of the climb there's this real cool vista showing the road you climb up. also, there's this european dude on a trick skateboard with full leathers and a full-face helmet about to bomb the descent. he took off before i could get a proper picture but here he is in a skater's tuck.

here's a cropped picture of him up close, it's pretty pixelated though...

crazy no? well if you look at this picture, you can see the road i ascended on the bottom left as it snakes its way up lookout mountain.

after riding up to the mt. vernon country club, the descent was safe and dull except for an accident on the i-70 frontage road. it would've been pretty uncool to take a picture of an accident scene. the cars were pretty jacked up and an ambulance was on the scene. it was a great ride and hopefully i didn't use up too much of my glycogen stores for tomorrow's team ride in boulder. we're meeting at my boy chip's joint at 9:30 tomorrow.
when i got home i drank this lovely recommended brew from my local beer joint. it's from stone brewing company in san diego (escondido actually), ca and it's a trippel style, belgian ale. quite yummy. the name's vertical epic ale. incidentally, i'm not a big duvel fan. i highly recommend this brew though kids...

if you decided to try this concoction get the 08, not the 07. the 07 has this nutty spice that should never be an ingredient in any beer.

11 January, 2009

A Great Weekend

truly, it was a great weekend. what makes it great is the balance of family time with training. the weather was so-so; a little on the chilly side both days. today especially was cooold.
on saturday after the girls ice skating and gymnastics lessons i met up with chip to rendezvous half way with kenny and chris. this year's chip's first year back from taking a decade long hiatus in competitive cycling. i can relate to that because my first year back was mighty painful. anyhoo i got in 2.5 hours saturday where the mercury never got above 40°. that includes windchill too and the crazy, blustery gusts that was rocking chip and my world on the return trip to the foothills as the sun was setting. man. that was cold but we got quality miles in the legs and probably burnt more than the usual amount of calories due to the cold.
sunday, we met in north boulder at a boutique coffee shop called amante. pretty much most of the team showed up this morning. chris was celebrating his 40th geburtstag with his mommy and daddy last night, so for reasons known only to him, he didn't show.

we were dressed for freezing temps again. the freezing temps kept us out of climbing in the series of canyons or frequented high roads that pepper boulder. the route today was one of the fruit loops and a climb towards estes park (where we turn around at the first summit). my boy chip, got dropped on our way out. he'll get better as the season progresses but for now, his body has to get used to the mental (self-induced torture) and the fleeting, physiological adaptations of competitive cycling. on the climb up, kenny and i were with the lead group-but not for long. the lead group consisted of ross (chris' best bud), marty, chris cummings, his friend whom he referred to as: ricky ricardo, me and kenny. as i was poppin' i saw that kenny was still in touch with the leaders and i said to myself "self, that there kenny's climbing quite nice."-then he popped. kenny and i rode together then andy and jim passed us. i jumped onto their wheels but kenny couldn't follow. you know you're about to pop when you follow a wheel and all of a sudden your rhythm slowly goes awry and it feels like the internal wind-up spring inside of you seems awfully wound up. you sense this tension like the cartoon version of a parent's face slowly turning red after their child does something naughty-then i popped (the spring lost its potential energy pretty instantaneously!). the sequence of riders stayed that way to the summit. afterwards, dave, rich, and the other kenny came on board.
here we are at the shoulder of the wee-summit while andy fixes a flat

the descent was screaming and even colder now that sweat's on our upper bodies. on our return trip, the rest of the team wanted to do some more climbing but i needed to be back at chip's by 2 so the two kennys, andy, rich, and myself turned off to go back to boulder.
on the way back, andy just started doing his impersonation of a choo-choo. so kenny and i form a rotating paceline to survive the return trip. andy keeps up'ing the the tempo and soon i close the gap to rotate with him. my legs are burning keeping the rotation and after a while it's him and me, the rest of the group was behind us. andy's a trip. a likable fellow with a self-induced sphere of influence. here's why i say this. as we look behind us and notice it's just us two, he says, "are you new?" i was wearing my turtle fur as a neck gaitor so the only thing exposed on my face was wee bit of skin underneath my sunglasses. to stave off the cold, i had become incognito. so i reply, "andy. it's me. mike." oh andy...
he has to hurry home so i wait for the rest of our posse at the intersection. from there kenny and i go back to chip's. afterwards i meet up with my family at my mother in-law's place which is relatively close from chip's for a scrumptious, vegetarian dinner.

04 January, 2009

I'm Going a Wee Bit Stir-Crazy

sunup in our backyard

okay ever since friday, i haven't been able to do anything physically taxing outside. couple that with the cold temperatures and new snow accumulations and i'm mentally left to my own devices (which isn't necessarily a good thing). running on the treadmill and riding the rollers only temporarily alleviates some of my stir-craziness but it doesn't do the trick (hence, the previous blog and probably this one).
it's sunday and everybody sleeps in except for me and my son (in fact, they're all still sleeping). so our ritual is to start a fire and while he plays quietly with his cars i read. on my way to retrieve the sunday ny times (it's an addiction from my wife when she used to live and attended graduate school in upstate ny) from my mailbox which involves winter gear appropriate clothes/shoes and walking down our dirt roadway-covered in new snow-i snap a picture of my (and melissa's) university logo--TEXAS!--adhered to my pickup's tailgate, which is a longhorn steer's head profile (yes i'm bored out of my gourd-rhyming's free...).

it's actually quite calming walking to my mailbox and the dogs follow me and play in the snow while i walk back slowly, breathing deeply the cold, crisp air and thinking about the newspaper's contents (specifically the travel, sports, arts & music, and the automobile section). here the dogs are sprinting up and down the driveway, inspecting their territory for unfavorables, cavorting and playing the way hundred pound dogs do.

this thing gets more use in the summertime than currently...

once inside i fire up the espresso maker. we inherited it after my in-laws divorced. it's a nice $400 machine. so i treat myself to a double-shot cappuccino. two of these (look how creamy and smooth it looks!) plus some frothed/slightly scalded milk...
equals this (if you notice i created my university's logo in the froth)...

i'm on a learning curve with this machine and if i must say so, i am at the very least a novice barrista. of course i'm spoilt by my boy kenny's espresso skills (he has a nice rancillo machine). he uses a thermometer to make sure the milk is at an optimum temperature during the frothing process and uses only a certain bean from his favorite local roaster (which i must confess is a pretty decadent bean). in doing so, i turn my nose on crappy espresso drinks which turns out to be at least half the time. even the most excellent restaurants (even some italian restaurants!) make substandard espresso-type drinks. like a heroin addict though, i'll resort to starbucks for a reasonable facsimile (read: fix).
i'm on a bender now to finish the nine before my break ends tomorrow. well there you go, some pseudo-entertaining minutiae from a stir-crazy cycling dad...

03 January, 2009

True Confession...

...ite, so my kids just absolutely love the high school musical phenomena. so for christmas we got 'em the dvd/cds (where we -okay me- promptly put it on their iPod shuffle, volume limited). tonight, we had the high school musical-o-rama (yes, i sing along too) where we watched high school musical parts 1 and 2; and like all dvd owners we like to see the bonus features. we switch over to the music videos on hsm 2. this canadien sings one of the songs- one in french, same song in english (available to our neighbors up north). her name's Nikki Yanofksi. on the video she has this powerful voice but i swear she looks no more than 12 or 13 years old. a good set of pipes regardless. so i google her and she's like this canadien, singing phenom. her inspiration's Ella Fitzgerald (whom i dig through Melissa's cds) and jazz-two things i dig and together the whole is better than the sum of its parts. so i youtube her and found this. she sings with the oliver jones trio (they're badass). her pitch is so-so but ella just comes through and the oliver jones trio-well they're the oliver jones trio. if you don't like jazz vocals forget it. she's twelve here, you be the judge...

here's her highlights from the montreal jazz fest '08, where she's 14.

02 January, 2009

The Family that Stays Together Skis Together

here's maricel in action in her ski school

ah yeauh! one of my life goals has been started (but not quite yet fully realized) which is...go skiing with my chilluns! it was too awesome skiing with my kids today at Sol Vista. definitely top 3 on my list of things to do as a parent (let alone a human being).
here's the weather we were faced with. purty no?

my friend billy (of homey trinity) said that mountain biking ranks up there too. i can see that, but i'd never expect skiing to have an equal to or greater than meaningful effect too. i mean riding up with my daughters on the ski lift? talking with them about skiing (and then ski to the bottom with them)? it was too surreal as a father for me-my kids doing the same things i hold near and dear to my heart and actually enjoying it too? spiritual boi (say it like flava flav would say it)!
here's maura and her instructor

not quite a destination ski area but it was definitely the most family friendly place nearby (that's what people like Kev-of same said homey trinity say-at least). the weather was absolutely outstanding but the coverage wasn't. oh well. that's why they make p-tex and belt sanders. bottom line: kids loved skiing; and melissa and i had a great time tearing it up on two planks (that's right you mouth breathing, knuckle draggin' snow boarders!).
i don't know which is better-having clean cycling gear or seeing melissa and my boots (w/liners out) drying in front of the fireplace?

i snapped a picture of sundown in granby, co on our way out. again, kind of a magical ending to a magical day with the fam-fam (majestic vista isn't it?)...

oh and believe me, i am extremely grateful, thankful, and humbled by all this...