23 July, 2010

An Old Friend and (road) Miles

My old friend Rob, a collegiate cycling teammate of mine and long time friend vacationed in Colorado this past week. We used to hang out a bunch back in Austin and the last time we hung out was in Crested Butte around 1998? He's now married to a pretty cool mate and they have a family with two boys living in the Texas Hill Country, not too far from where we went to University. I met up with him in a tiny town called Empire (elevation 8614', 2685 m) down from Berthoud Pass. We were going to ride up Berthoud Pass, elevation 11, 304' (3445 m) into WinterPark (el 9052', 2780 m) and onto Fraser/Tabernash (el. 8574', 2613 m).

The climb up was sunny, a little windy, slightly chilled, but shaping up to be another perfect Colorado day. Sunny and not HOT.
Here we are, up 11,307'. The sign's right next to the PortaPotty and it was sting-keee!

We blasted the downhill and rode up the rears of some cars and Rob was ready to pass 'em down the middle of the two lanes. We hit 50 mph (80 km/h) on the descent to WinterPark. We were near the last of the switchbacks and we big ringed the ride into WinterPark taking turns drafting. We stopped at Rocky Mountain Roastery for an espresso and a pastry. Talked some and finished the goods and we're off to Fraser/Tabernash. We exit off of Fraser and ride some dirt roads to a nearby po-dunky ski area. We pull a return trip once it starts to climb.

Back in WinterPark we stop at the Cheeky Monk to replace our electrolytes for the climb back up Berthoud, down into Empire. Here's our drinks: non-approved per UCI.

Rob hiding the banned substance(s)...

We were buzzing good from greater than or equal to 8% alcohol contents in our drinks. Chit-chatting up a storm and the buzz slowly evaporating as the climb gets interesting. Rob shows his Cat II form on a climb and dispatches me. He waits at the top and we bomb it back to our cars. Not getting too sentimental but it was great seeing and riding with him again. Trying to talk him and his family to move out here...

So far, here's what I have to show for with all this riding. Don't let the funky tan lines fool you, I still need more miles...

14 July, 2010

Dave Matthews Band and Ithaca

The day began going up to Cornell University, my sweet Melissa's Law School alma mater. Upstate New York is vastly different from what most people think about when they think of New York. Upstate's very green and hilly, with towns and villages (that's what it said on their speed limit signs-village!), interspersed pretty randomly, connected with super, skinny roads that makes it even more dangerous at night, when it's raining. Thank goodness we had a Garmin GPS that revealed the twisty roads to us because we didn't bring any local maps.

The main campus is built on rolling ground overlooking Cayuga Lake.

This was my first time to visit an Ivy League school and the first department we checked out was the Law School. Cornell's not that huge so all the structures reflect the lower student volume. Very stately Law Library and the classrooms were either small or slightly larger than small. Not the 200+ seating we had in my upper division Biology classes at the University of Texas at Austin.

Excellent academia vibe within the class and all the technology accompanying it. The classrooms still contained greenboards but the projectors and speakers technology for presentations were everywhere. All the classrooms had stately wooden chairs and desks/table rows with outlets for laptops, all standing on plush, dark slate colored carpet. Very earthy colors construction with windows.

The Law Library looked like a scaled-down version of the great hallway in a Harry Potter film. Cavernous with stained glass lamps and windows letting in copious amounts of natural light. The thick, oak doors had dark leather padding on both sides with its perimeters studded in brass tacks.

Here's the hanging judge in the mock trial courtroom...

Walked around the Commons in downtown Ithaca and ate at the Moosewood Restaurant (in fact, we have two cookbooks from this restaurant). This is a vegetarian restaurant sweet Melissa used to frequent as she worked for her JD some 17 years ago. Washed down my meal with a super hoppy concoction from Ithaca Beer Company named CascaZilla.

In the evening we drove 2 hours, one-way out to Bethel, NY to watch the Dave Matthews Band perform along with their Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King band mates (Tim Reynolds-Guitar, Rashawn Ross-Trumpet, and Jeff Coffin-saxes and pennywhistle). Needless to say it was an amazing show. Dave covered a song from another one of my favorite singer/songwriters Daniel Lanois, entitled The Maker. If you've never seen DMB you're missing a super special, audio-visual, talented, jamming treat. We got back home by 2 am driving at night in upstate NY crazy roads. Thank goodness for our Garmin. It was a great conclusion to a great day, hanging out with my sweetie and listening to one of our most favorite bands perform live on vacation nonetheless.

06 July, 2010

Provincetown, Herring Cove Beach, Race Point Beach, Province Lands Trails

Deeem boys and girls; it's HOT, 熱,heet, chaud, heiß, καυτός, caldo, 熱い, 뜨거운, quente, горяче, caliente...etc. Get it? Oh man, the East Coast heatwave's in full effect and our Colorado bodies aren't used to it although we're tough like that and after all, we are on vacation. Can you say, "ozone alert?" I knew you could...
So kids it's off to Provincetown! Home of such distinguishing features as Herring Cover Beach, Race Point Beach, and the meandering and rolling hills of Province Lands Trails. Our M.O. of getting off to a late start is consistent and by the time we're off to rent mother in-law's Mongoose mountain bike, the sun is high overhead ready to radiate its powerful ultra-violet rays to our already leathery bodies due to overexposure. Provincetown is a colorful area. It's the Cape Cod version of San Francisco. One of P-town's mottoes are: Welcome to Provincetown: Where Gay Life is Everywhere. I'm not a card carrying member of the NRA, or Focus on the Family, or the Boy Scouts so I'm not homophobic just apathetic mostly. The vibe was cool, your typical beachy, pandering to the tourists kind of gig except in smaller doses.
The first thing on the agenda was to ride the 7 miles, of the steep and rolling Province Lands Trails: dunes, scrub oak, vistas, and the crucible of riding in sweltering heat was too much to pass up, so off we go! Pilgrim's Monument was there but we blew it off for riding and essential beach lounging. Since my five year-old son's riding a singlespeed, I ride next to him and push him on his back up the super steep stuff. This is like my interval workouts back home so I don't mind and like I said, we're tough like that. After many breaks and attempting to find a lighthouse off of Race Point Beach (to no avail), we end up at the overlook at the Ranger station. There was a flourishing forest here but the Pilgrims exhausted the flora (as well as some of the fauna) in order to colonize. So the forest are gone but you can see how the sand dunes provide the foundation.

We're hurting and Team M has just ridden 7 miles of steep, rolling blacktop so we're gonna stick our bodies in the Atlantic Ocean for heat transfering in the form of conduction. That place is Herring Cove. Look how clear the Atlantic is on this beach. The sand is hot and super rough so again it looks like we're walking on a bed of hot coals as we shuttle our bodies to and from the Atlantic from our towels on the beach. The water's pretty righteous feeling against our heat exhausted masses. Here're the kids blasting each other with bucket loads of water during a water fight. After the Pilgrims landed here in Provincetown Harbor they cruised across Cape Cod Bay and settled in Plymouth Rock. On our way out of Provincetown we drove through the colorful, downtown Commercial Street to head back to Chatham.

05 July, 2010

Providence, RI; Chatham, MA and the Great Island Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet

For some odd reason I keep calling it Chatham MAINE but we're in Massachusetts! Before we arrived to our rental house in Chatham-which is considered the outer cape- we stopped in Providence, Rhode Island to do the touristy thing (i.e. see the surrounding area of Brown University). Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, was found(ed?) by a dude named Roger Williams who came over ten years (from England) after the original English settlers/Pilgrims started colonizing/imperializing (sp?) the New World. Once in the New World, the Puritans and he couldn't play nicely and the Puritans wanted him legally deported back to England. He bailed and eventually settled in what is now called Providence. His apt naming was due to its beauty coming only from God's providence. Here is Prospect Park with Roger Williams looking over his city and gesturing to the fine citizens to slow it down. Here's what the statued Mr. Williams oversees everyday...

I'm starting to dig the East Coast geographical offerings and the super-sized history backing up its reputation. We really haven't gotten out of sweet Melissa's 4runner yet to personally suss our surroundings. Speaking of 4runner, we're traveling with six hominds (Team M plus mother in-law), five bikes, travel food and clothes to last us two weeks worth of cycling, hiking, and beach lounging. Here's the faithful rig parked in front of some prime real estate off of Prospect St. located in College Hill formerly Prospect Hill. College Hill is home to University luminaries like Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

College Hill's what you would consider old school, mansions-on-a-hill, stately East Coast pedigreed moolah. I can see why Mr. Williams considered his settlement rather providential...

I forgot any form of jacket but in hindsight the East Coast was experiencing a rather nasty heat wave but just in case it got cold (never did) we stopped in a Salvation Army clothing store outside of the Cape and bought a royal blue $4 jacket with the stitched letters C-O-S-T-A (on my right pec) and R-I-C-A (on my left pec) for myself.

Once inside our elegant Chatham rental home, we bunked in this. This view's from the front door looking towards the living room...

...and if you climbed that ladder on the right, that was the 1/2 story loft where the chilluns slept...

...and from the living room looking to the kitchen and front entrance.

An observation: there sure are a butt-load of Dunkin' Donuts here! Well Dunkin' Donuts was founded in Massachusetts, hence its ubiquity. All sorts out here, drive-thrus, 24 hours, breakfasts...awesome. Nothing wrong with having doughnuts available to you 24 hours.

For Dinner in Chatham, we ate at an establishment called The Box Office Cafe. Not only can you order some pizza/food named after well-known American movies but you can watch movies inside on the various couches while eating or rent a DVD or two, and in the morning order all manner of foodstuffs to break ones fast. Nobody wanted to go halfsies with me on the Tora! Tora! Tora! pizza whose main ingredients were wasabe and shrimp (doesn't that sound/taste appealing?). We walked on the bike path from our house to this restaurant and noticed how Chatham's flora was abundant and photosynthesizing volumes but its humidity oppressive.

Here's the local beach, within walking distance, we lounged on the 4th, called Ridgevale. It was Africa-hot that day...Chatham is pretty hoidy-toidy if you compare it to other towns out here on the Cape. Yes, it has a merchant filled, quaint, walker friendly downtown but at an area called Shore Road you'll see some upscale, world-class beach front homes and hotels.

The morning after we went for a 7 mile hike at the Great Island Cape Cod National Seashore's trail for the Great Beach Hill, located on Chequesset Neck Road in Wellfleet. We would've hiked to Jeremy's Point but it was submerged due to high tide. The East Coast heat wave was in full swing and we were dying. Of course we can never wake up early enough (to avoid the heat) because our circadian rhythms have switched to vacation mode (i.e. sleeping in)! Nothing like sand reflecting UV rays back at you on the hike. Once we arrived at Great Beach Hill (after passing some salt marshes), we decided to climb the bluff, go the shore, remove our shoes and hike back sans shoes skirting between the Atlantic Ocean and sand (rather than reversing our direction). There was hardly another soul out there for our trek.
Here's the Great Beach Hill on the left...

we hit the return, main trail from this boardwalk...

We rehydrate and fill our tummies with ice cream and candy in the hustling and bustling (downtown of) Wellfleet and head back to Chatham in Cape Cod rush hour traffic.

02 July, 2010

Reisen (auf)

Went through 5 states yesterday: Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. It really wasn't any marathon driving or anything but it sounds impressive. 5 states. Traveled only 700 or so miles and took a break at a nice rest area in Iowa. In Nebraska on our way out, stopped at the Capital: Lincoln. There were some people peaceably assembled on the steps. Something about taxes, or gun control, or abortion, the stuff to peaceably assemble. I wanted to say, "Great, but do y'all know where the nearest Starbucks is?"

When we passed through Illinois I saw a sign for the town Normal, it reminded me of a Ben Folds song Effington from his CD Way To Normal.

Pennsylvania we only stopped for gas.

Went through Lake Chautauqua and Binghamton, NY. Bunked down in Worcester, MA and change of plans instead of bunking in Boston.

Saturday: Check out Brown University

We're pushing onto Providence if we're lucky by tonight.