24 December, 2010

Skiing With My Girls!

Wow. Spent the entire day skiing with my girls at Winter Park. First time the young 'uns didn't do lessons; instead we skied the whole day with them. Awesome. It was slow going at first but once they got used to the speed underneath their skis (and their snowplows) it was time to venture onto some new terrain.

The Mountain was absolutely righteous. We got there at nine and left around 3:30. Skied the entire day with nary a break for lunch. The girls were troopers. They never complained about being cold; only brought it to our attention when they were hungry. The weather was forecasted to be snowy and cold, rather it was a smidge overcast with blue skies always just beyond the horizon. The lines at the lifts were non-existent and it seemed like whatever run we chose it was just the four of us and our random fall lines. Amazing. Nothing more satisfying than skiing right next to your honey/children.

Melissa's new skis are treating her right. Her turns are looking even more fluid and connected. Only one fixable problem with her boots: we have to slightly elevate her heels.

While they ate at the top of the mountain restaurant for lunch, I fired off two runs down to the bottom. Fast and no lines. Perfect. Met 'em back at the top and away we go again to finish the rest of the day skiing.

At the end of the day, we carted all our stuff in a wagon (no poles yet for the kids) and made our way back to the parking lot via the Village for hot chocolates.
They did their first blue runs today too. Albeit snowplow action, they did do turns. Keeping my mouth shut for now about their technique but next time I'm going to have to show them form (that's how I started too).

Melissa made a quick dinner and we (Melissa and I) celebrated our Team M skiing event by rinsing down our dinner with some celebratory, silky smoof Gulden Draak (Golden Dragon) Ale (Trippel).
Back at home, there're just more boot liners to dry out next to the fire. Team skiing. Ah yeauh kids.
Next time: moguls!

Cycling can take a back seat if I'm skiing y'all...

22 December, 2010

Fitt'na Bust a ski-move

This is from Team M visiting Hudson Garden's Xmas Tree Lights Event.
One of the geographical advantages of living in the boonies (aka the Front Range Foothills) is being close to the I-70 corridor ski areas (as well as super awesome terrain for cycling once the snow goes away). Tomorrow we're taking the two oldest kiddoes for a day up at WinterPark. It'll be our inaugural outing and it's going to be a cloudy, snowy day. Gotsta ensure I find all the kiddoes's gloves, helmets, base layers...etc. so's their first, non-lessoned day hanging with Mom and Dad will be pleasurable and remotely warm. My goal is to get them hooked and their skills up to a proficient level where we can eventually get passes and Team M can tear stuff up at any given mountain (and to not get them to the dork-side which is boarding-yes, I'm biased!). Skiing with novice kids means the selfish part of me won't be able to do ungroomed bowls and moguls going with my hair on fire-same with Melissa. Melissa has new twin tip skis too, and I'm sure she's ready to tear up the mountain but not tomorrow. Tomorrow is hanging with the kids on groomers and facilitating a better technique for them. Tomorrow is making sure out of control mountain riders don't hit my precious's and for them to take occasional warming hut stops. Maura is less reserved skiing whereas Maricel's very cautionary.

I've been daydreaming alot about skiing. I'm dating myself here but remember going roller skating and afterwards your feet still have a pair of phantom roller skates on? My feet have phantom Technica Alu Comp's on and they're paralleling and floating over three-dimensional bumps my brain has projected to the motor neurons attached to my doggies. It's that vivid. Maybe I should cut down on my caffeine (NOT!).

Haven't been able to ride during my break (I'm watching the kids silly!) but I have been doing an inordinate amount of running on our treadmill. Three miles a pop; running less than or equal to a 10-minute pace. Doing this almost daily. There is some translation into cycling. When I fired off a 39 miler (yeah, it was close to 40, but I can't lie) last weekend my legs felt reasonably fresh. It was freezing that day (Winter at 5000 feet). I rode solo with me breaking my own wind (I said breaking wind). Nonetheless my legs felt great! I did the Kenny L. technique of keeping it in the big ring to knock out simulated weight training and fat-burning miles. My take is: running is so abusive to the legs that when you do a non-weight bearing activity like cycling the body's perception is that 'hey, this isn't so bad' therefore keeping the legs fresh longer. Not very scientific but there's your anecdotal evidence with an n of 1 (me!).

Have not done rollers! Okay I did it once and had a slow speed biff. Eventually I'll have to do some interval training on that contraption of consternation. In the meantime, I'ma go skiing, running (hopefully I can get a couple days of cycling in), and luxuriating (reading, napping, listening to music) during my Winter Break.

17 December, 2010

"Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

My apologies to Dr. Martin Luther King but I am done entering grades electronically for my students thereby finishing my accountability piece for my lovely district and going on holidaze for two weeks! His statement (R.I.P) is what I cathartically felt once my boy Billy and I went to lunch. What to do, what to do? I'll tell you what I did: Firstly, I bought the new Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. I purchased this fine piece of music from a generous gift card one of my students gave me as a present. How grateful and cool is that? There are 2010 top whatever (pick an integer) lists from reputable journalistic organizations that I take with more than just a grain of salt (I have no time to listen to all this good stuff) and by looking at different lists I try to choose the ones that have overlap. The aforementioned CD was just that. It made the top 10 in different lists. Not quite the wall of sound of Neon Bible packed with their orchestral instrumentation nor as sparse as Funeral (I like this better than Neon Bible actually), but still sonically righteous with some well crafted songs. That's how I'm going to start my celebratory two weeks work-free (committing some luxuriating, mental time to absorb some music audiovisually)! I'm also committed to finish reading The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Usually don't read fiction but sweet Melissa loved this book so much I gave it a try and was hooked as well. Seems if I don't finish reading a book/novel on a long-ish break, I feel as if I didn't accomplish it properly and without quality.

Started Friday morning witnessing our stove piping, coming undone, and laying against our living room wall. I only noticed it after I started a fire (we have a very long stove pipe that goes into the ceiling, that's why I thought everything was normal visually) and the smoke started diffusing slowly into the room. Stopped everything put it in arrested development and went down the hill to finish entering grades. Melissa researched where I could purchase some 6" diameter, 24 gauge steel, black stove pipe and told me where to purchase it on our way home. The representative at Ace Hardware was helpful and said I probably saved three to four hundred dollars by getting it done by myself as opposed to the shysters (fireplace repair businesses, meant that in a non-denominational sort-of-way) that work locally here. It was fairly easy just some drilling, screwing, malleting, cutting of metal and eye-balling a straight line (well, four out five ain't bad).

Now, I'm figuring out how to get some riding in in weather above freezing temps. In the meantime, I'm putting in quality treadmill time preparing for a half-marathon that I'm tentatively going to attempt come June in Steamboat Springs; and, trying to figure when the first ski-action of the season's going down. Not bad options actually for the holiday minded. Oh yeauh!!!!

I'm tapping this out listening to Noah And The Whale's The First Days Of Spring-another excellent CD (a burned CD from a colleague-thanks James!). Contemplative stuff, kinda spatially-dark sounding too. The guy's baritoney, amateur-sounding voice adds to the darky aura of the music.

Give these two a listening to. I wouldn't steer y'all wrong.

Ite den y'all I'm off to:
-hangout with familia.
-fight the battle of the bulge (am I missing anything? probably).

12 December, 2010

"There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmas time...

...Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them".
-PJ O'Rourke

Christmas is fast approaching and what that means is my Winter Break's around the corner, the commencing of the smackdown of FINALS are looming for my students, our bank account's mettle's about to be tested, and my bah humbug tolerance is slowly making an appearance (but lo and behold I will hold steadfast and keep it in check).

I have nothing to complain about though. All things considered:
-sweet Melissa and I saw Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds play at the Broomfield Event(s) Center which was fairly (and sonically) remarkable and tonight we're about to see (and listen to) Handel's Messiah.
-La Nina's weather pattern's revealing little to no precipitation in the form of snow, where nowadays we'd kinda be socked in, but it is ski time in the mountains where it has been snowing.
-our Christmas tree looks real purty-like.
-my oldest daughter's enrolled in the Colorado Gems programs which means she can ski for free at certain areas.
-speaking of skiing, sweet Melissa's back into skiing again!
-got my Völkl Karma's de-burred, edged, and waxed.
-got in a mellow 25 miler in the cold with some teammates today...so yeah, my 2010's nicely winding down.

As for cycling and planning for the 2011 season I cannot even muster up the synaptic fortitude to set anything in motion other than keeping my weight at bay (which so far so good--knock on wood--I'm doing ite). Running's kinda messing up my left knee but on the bike it's fine. I'm planning on running a half-marathon with no kind of formal training come June in Steamboat with sweet Melissa who's apparently running like a person possessed. I ran an 8-miler in Dallas with very little training (my training regimen was if I can run three, I can run eight).

Riding with some new teammates today was nice. Haven't ridden the road for a while and it was nice feeling the ground underneath my under-inflated tires. But jeez it was a cold one today. The thermometer belied the fact that the wind chill was about a beeyatch today. In fact, it was warmer where I live (see my blog header) than it was down the hill (Denver, that is; it's what us hill folk call "D"). Skootched my saddle forward just a bit and what a major comfort booster that was. Should try and work on dialing in my stance a bit more I suppose. I only change it when I feel some type of discomfort.

This is one of those apathetic season beginnings where I'm thinking more about skiing than I am about competitive road cycling. Definitely thinking about competitive mountain biking. The quicker I can get on a Cannondale Flash 29er with a Lefty, the more I can feel how my "training's" going to be decided and an injection of enthusiasm can ensue for 2011. Have only done one cross race, that's how unmotivated I am currently but sweet Melissa and I are chomping at the bit to use up our WinterPark 4pass with our kids.

13 November, 2010

Maxwell Falls in the Snow

I started ride at this temp (-1° C)with snow falling. Awesome...

The day was past its prime for riding and that mid-day circadian rhythm of narcolepsy was encroaching. We had just finished taking the kids to get their pictures taken for the Christmas paper shuffle aka the perfunctory how-do-you-do, see-how-happy-the-joy-of-Christmas-has-parked-itself-on-our-smiles-as-evidenced-by-the-card-you-are receiving. We did this at the mall. I forgot how bah humbug I truly am during the Christmas season. I just keep that part to myself. It was time to the leave the mall...

Melissa and I got a coffee to kickstart the latter half of the day and so's I could be alert on a snowpacked trail with slippery rocks and tree roots. I picked a fairly technical trail to descent (due to windchill) to keep me honest and I rode back uphill on the road to warm me up.

This was the first part of the descent.

It was excellent. My tires were more grippy than I expected (front: Kenda Blue and rear: Panaracer Fireroad XC with matching red sidewalls) and I had to really concentrate because if I chickened out on a line, it would be difficult to get the flow back. Snow quickly builds up on the cleats when you dab, so I really wanted to cherry pick my fall line. That takes a lot of concentration and uses up a decent amount of kilocalories. The stuff that gave me the chickenskin was when I slid on roots hidden underneath the snow and trying to stay on the uphill parts of the berm. The hikers I passed thought I was crazy but holy mackeral I was in the zone. Super, laser focused on my line and ne'er did I crash (had a couple'a close calls though). I love the way my bike handles with the slightest body english for corrective purposes. It's super sensitive and it whispers to me to take the sickest lines and to always accelerate. It persuades me to go to the dark side. Sometimes I listen to it, but most of the time I attenuate its mental hubris.

for example, my Yeti told me to get to ramming velocity and float over this...

It was cold my feet were numb but everything else, including my willy, was warm to room temp. If my willy or ears go numb, that's a deal breaker. Today was good. Today was better than good actually. The nutty part too is that earlier I ran almost four miles in 40 some odd minutes. My team issue jacket's the $hit too. It was a gift from my teammate and longtime bud, Kenny L. I swear, like in skiing, the day you have is proportional to the equipment that's used (technical clothing included).

I drank a Scotch Ale afterward-a beer made from the Grand Lake Brewing Co. located near Estes Park-and like the Lord said, "it was good."

02 November, 2010


I forgot to take it off of sepia...

...is the abbreviation for Fantasy Island North Singletrack (not the Tucson one). Unfortunately this would be my last ride of my Arizona vacation with me brother's family during my October Break. The best, truncated description I can give y'all is that this area seemed tailor made for short-track XC. They had all these spurs/loops of other spurs/loops where the topography was fast, tight singletrack with a plethora of hills interspersed where it seemed like an interval workout. That's my version of fun. Truly, anytime I'm upright with the rubberside down is my version of fun. It turns exponential hanging out with me brah. The climbs weren't too intense except when they were and the twisties were just right enough if you mentally highlighted your trajectory you could maintain or increase your speed through the S-turns. Again though, being centered is crucial because the riders before you bulldoze the scree to the flanks, if your front tire drifts over there you better correct it mighty quick in order to not lose traction and eventually biff it. The highlight of the ride was the climb Lemmy took me on and at the ascent we had these gorgeous 360° views of the desert and the encroaching civilization.

The change of scenery was enough to shift my neurons from teacher, working-stiff phase to mentally curious, I'm-just-a-stranger-here-myself-being-in-awe, vacay phase. The mountain biking's cool because the topography's keeping me honest but seriously? the super mild weather and extremely sunny days had this therapeutic vibe to my vacation. Yeah Phoenix sucks come Summertime but these past couple'a days have been just gorgeous (in a preventive mental and body maintenance sort-of-way too). I guess part of the mental newness too is riding a new bike (see my White Tanks Mountain Regional Park blog entry) where it's just a bit off my normal riding posture (dialed in-ness). Seeing (and riding in) all this vast, open grandeur of the Sonoran desert made me feel grateful. It was as if my brother just let me in some great big, mountain biking secret and the deluxe-ness of it was this picture, postcard climate. It's the terrestrial analog of seeing the stars on a clear night up in the mountains and feeling like an insignificant speck of a sentient being. I can see why nutjobs congregate to the desert because of its spiritual, cleansing properties (especially in the Fall) to channel energy or whatever nutjobs do. It feels like while I'm out in the desert I'm punching through some cosmic ether/fabric as I propel myself forward-especially when my brother and I are standing next to a skinny singletrack on top of a vista looking at all the spaciousness. While overlooking a vista my perception is that I feel some electric, static buildup in my chest proportionate to the elevation and my range of view.

In fact, here's Lemmy on top of Jim's Star Pass ascent.

Kinda reminds me of Taos/Santa Fe 'cept in a much grander (desolate beauty kind of) scheme. Bet the native americans thought this place was special too until the white man shafted them.

One particularly cool view as we were still climbing Jim's Star Pass...

A funny thing happened on the way back to (the) Westar Elementary School...as we were riding back to Lemmy's Pathfinder it felt as if I was getting a masking tape bikini waxing while I was pedaling. I reached my hands down to that area and my fingers felt it too. As I shifted gears my fingers felt as if I was touching ice! My brother started laughing and said, "Low hanging powerlines. I'm guessing you're getting shocked?" Damn! Ain't that about a bitch? My saddle rails were shocking my bidness. Using my rolling inertia, I stood on my pedals and kept my hands strictly on my (brother's bike's) handlebars while I rolled past the shock-zone. Funky, fresh. Never had that experience. Rode my mountain bike over a waterfall once in Austin, TX while my friends treaded water downstream to catch my bike. It just floated upside down (due to the air in the tires), pretty much stationary. Hmmm.

Here're the pertinent GPS data for y'all data hounds.

About one thousand feet of climbing taking us 13 miles.

Thoroughly enjoyed myself. Can't sing enough praises in my brother's (family's) name on this vacation go 'round. Work, you suck. Family, I missed y'all; and Mr. Bicycle inventor, thank you and you are a rockstar...

Alas, my vacation comes to an end, punctuated by my last ride in Arizona.

27 October, 2010

Trail 18

Here are the Estrella Mountains (courtesy me camera savvy bro-Lemmy). Estrella means estrella in Spanish by the way (okay it means star-a gaseous ball of luminescence due to fusion reactions).

Trail 18 is located in an exclusive housing area that's feeling the sting of the recession when Phoenix's housing bubble burst ugly. Trail 18 starts on housing plot number 18 and was cut by the developers. It begins on private land but criss-crosses regional park territory. The park's area was mellow, the privately cut stuff wasn't technical per se but it was narrow. Narrow meaning, if your front tire broke traction because you're not centered on the trail and you hit the flanking scree, chances are you're falling off a cliff or face a rather steep drop-off with cacti breaking your fall.

Again, the weather was gorgeous with just a hint of broody clouds swelling off into the distance. I think the high was just in the seventies with a balmy breeze hooking us up.

We parked at a local Elementary School and it's a nice warmup on the road before we hit the serpentine singletrack starting in the hoidy-toidy neighborhood. It began with a mellow, fireroady climb and as it continued we crossed these really fast, erosion indented (dry) creek crossings. It was the Arizona version of whoop-de-doos. The serpentine single track with these indentations/erosion gullies punctuating it every so often added to the all body flow. You have to push down on the bike (I'm sure with the head bob too) to facilitate the flow when entering and (pulling up with arms and legs) exiting these gullies at tempo. Just had to make sure your exit speed and trajectory was adjusted to avoid the Jumping cholla cacti and Saguaros that were near the apices. The Jumping cholla spine has evil, microscopic barbs that ensure an easy entry in the skin and a major, pain(ful) endeavor for removal.

Pretty sure the trail cutters did this on purpose. I lean out my inside knee as a counter balancing act cruising through the apex (I'm pretty sure I picked that habit watching Grand Prix motorcycle racing and bicycle road racing). I reeled in my outrigger leg in fear of an inside leg full o'spines.

Here's Lemmy leading before the first major climbing...

The singletrack seems more rocky than the last ride. As riders push through, a pile of scree accumulates on either side of the already narrow singletrack. This makes centering particularly important, especially on climbs. A particularly cool section of singletrack was this narrow ascent leading to a ridgeline trail that contained a scenic outcropping of rocks where I photo-geeked away. Our exact location was pretty damn scenic and humbly satisfying. To give you the depth and perspective (and fun of climbing factor) of the trail-cutting endeavor/placement these people created, here's the brunt of the climb and the switchbackiness of it with Lemmy climbing.

Cruising through on our way to the second climb...

The last bit of the ride was Lemmy putting the finishing touches a la gunning it for the imaginary finish line while I was drafting as close as I could. I know when Lemmy begins to wind it up because he gets into his hunker down, reducing frontal area stance for lower wind resistance. We passed a facility that looked like civil liberties were not high on its priority--just me eyeballing it and mentally classifying it--and I asked Lemmy, "Is that a prison?" He laughed and replied, "No, it's the High School."
"Same diff, I suppose."

With the sun shining brightly overhead now and the majority of the cloud cover burned away it turned out to be another gorgeous Arizona Fall day with bluebird skies and an oh so gentle breeze giving us a smidge of evaporative cooling. As we cool down our pistons back to Lemmy's Pathfinder via paved roads, I ride no-handed because that's how I roll beetches...

When it was all said and done 16.36 miles (26 km) and 1,568' (478 m) of climbing. The climbing's not terribly steep and whenever I can I try and make the climbs a power workout by keeping it in the middle ring and staying seated. This riding in the desert with my older brother is good for my soul and my inner child fo' sho'.
The profile's are courtesy of me brah too...

Contour-action beetches...

...aerial view...

23 October, 2010

White Tank Mountain Regional Park: Maricopa County, Arizona

Finished reading "The Book Thief" by Zusak this morning because work has completely screwed up my college circadian rhythm of sleeping 'til whenever. My sleeping 'til whenever has been replaced by sleeping 'til 6:00 a.m. While I was waiting for my brother's family to wake up (I'm visiting him on my October break), I laid in bed finishing this amazing novel. Its genre is young adult lit but really y'all, anybody who likes reading--independent of age--will be humbled, grief stricken, and happy for the protagonist as revealed by the narrator: death. Turn off your T.V. (unless you're watching old TdF DVDs) and return to some old fashioned story telling/reading. Zusak paints quite a picture with his words and his characters are believable. Time for some non-fiction to balance it out...

On another note, I'm riding with me brah-Lemmy-in Goodyear, Arizona. The weather's simply amazing and it's always a treat hanging out with my nephews and sister in-law. I'm missing my chilluns too but it's nice being with my older brother; and, my October break officially begins kids.

Went to White Tank Mountain Regional Park today (aka "White Tanks"). The first section we did was the "competitive track". But first, let me introduce you to my brother's fine racing steeds (c'mon neighbor!): the Moots Rigor Mootis.
I see why people rave about it as the hardtail standard. As compared to the aluminum Yeti I race, the Moots is not quite as lively (but I think that's the nature of this Ti blend, plus I ride a small whereas Lemmy's rig's a medium-I may have to switch to medium for my next bike) but it's just as responsive in the steering and pedaling department. Furthermore, the Moots takes the edge out of hitting babyheads or small, nutty terrain anomolies leaving my tetrapod body plan less abused when going greater than or equal to tempo pedaling in the saddle for 2+ hours. Aesthetically speaking, the satin finished Ti with the classic triple triangle hardtail's a giver of woodies. His dual boinger's a Titus (made in the current, lovely state I'm visiting). This too--the Motolite--is the 26" version of XC race-worthiness.

Here's the steed my brother was gracious enough to loan me...

The competitive track was pretty fun, the Arizona race scene is starting up because the summer's are too hot to begin the bike season then. There were some folks out there going fast getting ready for an XC event next week but me an Lemmy took it at tempo.
Here's Lemmy diggin' in on a quicky climb...

Pretty fun, a lot of loose rocks on sand on top of red clay-ey stuff. Really fast singletrack, not a whole lot of climbing nor is it too twisty either. You can't really lean into the corners like you can on hardpack soil so that was one body englishing idiosyncrasy I had to adjust for while out here rolling in the desert.

The next trail we did was the Waddell trail but we gave up once it went hike-a-bike.
Here's Lemmy and me at the same spot...

Here's the profile...

Here's the contoured version...

'twas a good preview of the trails to come...!

16 October, 2010

Stuff I Saw Whilst Cycling and other Non-Sequitors on the 16th of October

Last Friday, due to a change of plans I was able to go for a spur-of-the-moment ride with a one member of the homey trinity-Hez Chilly. We started at his place and I felt like a fifth wheel because originally it was a ride date with his son. We rode in a subdivision called "Highlands Ranch" and it was a visually beautiful ride. The sun was about to go down, the weather was cool turning crisp and most of the plants' photosynthetic machinery started to wind down giving way to non-green organic, muted colors. Very pretty.

20.5 miles later after chit-chatting up a storm we're back at Billy's with goofy grins on our faces. A most excellent way to end the protracted work week! Hit 47.5 miles an hour (76.55 km/h) on a descent where I attacked on the ascent part but Billy shut it down and crested the apex before me. Noice.

Saturday's soccer day and we did split duty. I watched Maricel's team win 1-0 and saw her depart with her teammates for a slumber party. Great girls, all class acts. Very polite, smart and athletic to boot. Hopefully they won't fall for a loser guy. I'm a guy (hopefully not a loser although some would beg to differ) and I'm a high school teacher. I've seen my fair share of loser boys (thankfully that is a very, very small number) who hopefully will not grow up to be loser adults. There is however a high correlation between loser kids and their loser parents.
Going up Pleasant Park...

After she left and cleaning house for a bit I took off on my standard, Pleasant Park/Highgrade/285 climbing loop. By now, the weather up here at 8k's (2438 m) pretty crisp; you add some wind and it gets mighty crispy if you don't have the gear. I wore a base layer with leg and arm warmers. Frigid on the descent and near perfect for climbing. My goal was to go in the highest gear possible for near maximum chill effect. The views I normally take for granted-that if you took the time to suss it- would be pretty damn amazing and waaaaay aesthetically pleasing to the nature lover who also happens to be wearing an inordinate amount of lycra/fleece-lined spandex while riding a carbon fiber racing bike.

The brewing up of La Niña seems to have our part of the world just a wee bit drier than what I normally would've expected; or, it could be due to global climate change (if you think climate change is not scientifically supported log off now and go back to your village because they're missing an idiot). Chill mode takes the race-mentality of trying to pass people I see up the the road and forces me to work on technique. For example, pedaling in circles, syncing the breathing with the cadence, finding the sweet spot on my saddle for my sensitive man areas (I ride with Chamois cream), not death gripping the bars, belly breathing, belching super loud (I look like a snake yawning) and giggling (from said belch), expunging high-velocity Texas hankies/liquid shrapnel from my nares from this malingering head cold, standing and rocking the bike in ways i hit other parts of my leg muscles...all that I take into consideration whenst going chilly-chill. It was a singularly, splendiferous day in the high country.
One more switchback to Highgrade

Here's my dirt driveway; home...

Afterwards I took me doggies for a 30 minute walk in our favorite hiking spot: Flying J. The coincidence was when my iPod was on shuffle, it played a track from one of the most awesome pet/dog books of all time: Where the Red Fern Grows.
The randomly played track was when Big Dan had already died and Little Anne (they worked in tandem saving the author's life) was dying of a broken heart (Big Dan was her brother) and didn't want to eat and was simultaneously starving to death. She eventually crawled her way (her back legs weren't working at this point of her suffering) to where the author-Wilson Rawls-buried Big Dan. This is where Little Anne chose her final resting spot. My eyes got all misty re-hearing this. A real tear jerker I'm telling you and this novel was based on his earlier years living out East in the boonies. We heard it on our way back from Cape Cod this past summer and all the adults in the 4runner cried too. Team M is very sensitive. My oldest daughter cried during the part of another excellent, animated movie The Iron Giant when the giant sacrificed itself for the sake of his friends.

Next week I have a week off for October Break. I'm going to see my older brother in Phoenix, AZ. He too is a mountain biker (imagine that!) and we're going to tear some $hit up hopefully. A minimum of three hour cycling days (every day) out in the surreal landscape of the high desert including saguaros, creosote, mesquite and palo verde trees along with the random Gila monster should be of some relaxing, carbon blowing, catching up, worthwhile fun while hanging with me bro!

Been listening to a lot of Pearl Jam lately too. Coincidentally it's what I listened to as a first year teacher back in Plano, TX. Seems like I'm a first year teacher again energetically speaking with this mentally rotten anchor called the (unpaid) sixth class. Maybe I can make a movie spoof of the Sixth Sense called the Sixth Class? In this movie too the protagonist will also see dead people-they'll be the teachers (or the students?).

My Sweet Melissa secured for us two tickets to see Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds acoustic concert gig in a 6,800 person venue. Man, how amazing's that show going to be?! Talented, talented musicians.

18 September, 2010

Friday night ride(s) with the Homey Trinity

Last night was night riding night. Hez-chilly, Kev, and I--aka the Homey Trinity--rode last night. We were all sporting our lighting systems. Night riding is an whole body exercise in proprioceptive, self-control. What you take for granted day riding is what you need to be extra careful for at night. Scanning is of the utmost, not just of what's ahead but the hidden obstacles out of the range of the lights at the ground level. The cool thing is when your visual senses are on high alert, the watts applied to the legs via the neuro-muscular systems seem to go on autopilot. It's like powder skiing sort of-you see the contours of the snow ahead but your feet are currently submerged in the snow out-of-sight. Day riding gives you a commanding view what's coming up because everything-including peripheral vision is illuminated; night riding has a distinct cut-off created by my handlebar mounted L.E.D. system that creates a distinct visual boundary (e.g. the distinct cut-off H.I.D. car headlamps create at night-especially on curves). The ski adage: don't look that way or else you will (go that way-i.e. don't look at cliff boundaries) is especially fitting for night, mountain bike riding. Due to the dry conditions the boundaries of the trail (i.e. the sharp cutoff before you go careening down the mountain) are sketchy and super dusty. There was a couple of times I eyeballed the loose stuff on the edge of the singletrack too long and sho 'nuff my nearly bald front tire broke traction and I was heading down a slippery slope. I had to physically bunny-hop (or shift my whole weight via body english, gran mal-style) my bike back on the singletrack so I wouldn't biff it at low speeds.

When it was over it was very, very satisfying. 2.25 hours of pretty solid riding, probably 1200' feet of climbing? The weather was excellent and seeing the surrounding areas all lit up with a 360 degree panorama at the apex was surreal. The quarter-mile drag strips at Bandimere was lit up, as well as the motocross track made it seem as if we were overlooking a miniature train track setup. We all concurred that living in Colorado is a damn, beautiful thing!

12 September, 2010

Way Into the Off-Season

Yeah, we live nearby

Cycling is a priority but not quite as high up on the list as my daughters' soccer commitments. This weekend was in the Springs and thankfully not in Pueblo. Being in the Springs means that we can hangout with Melissa's Uncle and our cousins-which is always fun. For starters we got to see my cousin's-Casey-touring skills at the Olympic Training Center. He is one of the tour guides there. We hooked up with him for his 1:00 tour. When it was over we-including the rest of his tour group-all clapped for him. When we were leaving his Mom, Melissa's Aunt, said, "we love you!" in front of the tour group. It was too funny. Great tour; great presence from Casey.

Maura's team lost 4-2; but the cool thing was my daughter scored their two goals. Maricel's team lost as well but they're starting to gel-especially on defense. The weather was absolutely gorgeous both days. Fall in Colorado's absolutely stunning and super pleasant/mild. The rest of the Green family met us at Maricel's game; afterwards we hungout one last time at their house (in a cool neighborhood), said our farewells and headed back home.

Sunday, Melissa ran the Neder-Nederland 10K and when she came home I did the Highway 73 to S. Brook Forest to Shadow Mountain back to 285. Another absolutely gorgeous pre-Fall Sunday. Climbed about 2000 feet (609m) in 30 miles in 1h and 47 mins. 32 minutes of descending and an hour and 17 minutes of climbing. It was pretty steep in some places where I had to stand. Wasn't used to that since mentally I've been in the off-season for quite some time-even have hair back on my legs! The weather wasn't even 70° F (20°C)! Absolutely gorgeous.
Here's 285 heading North as seen from our flyover...

Highway 73 connects Conifer to Evergreen, a pretty popular route on the weekends

On the downhills you can go as fast as the cars; on the switchbacks you can go faster.
Here's S Brook Forest, part of it goes through a National Forest.

Climbing, climbing, and more climbing

At 9,000 feet (2743m) the Aspens are starting to change.

On the last big downhill, I got behind a delivery truck and drafted him back to Shadow Mountain. He lost me on the flats where I couldn't maintain his speed. My max speed was...

(or 81 kph)
Here's Shadow Mountain

Not too bad. I definitely have no endurance but it is after all the off-season. Thinking about doing cyclocross though. It's less than an hour for my category.
Great way to start the week (ending for some countries): my Texas won (and consequently I won a wager) and we hungout as a family watching my daughters play soccer-and did I mention it's pre-Fall weather in Colorado?