24 July, 2011

Oh-My-God Road aka Virginia Canyon

'Tis Sunday morning. Another cathartic TdF is about to be under wraps with my boy Cadel Evans finally taking the win after so many close calls and crappy teams not designed for him to win the tour. Rode and ran to my satisfaction and now I'm listening to the Oliver Nelson sextet's The Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse, 1961) drinking french pressed Kenyan Roast (and ingesting particulate solids of the bean). If you have no inclination for Jazz (straight ahead, bop, hard-bop, circa 50-60's AMERICAN jazz) can I suggest you pick up John Coltrane's My Favorite Things ? No question mark in the title. If you don't like that after a month or so of listening you might have right-brain aesthetics issues you might need to correct. Life can't be sweeter with the week I just had (I don't need much to keep me grinning).
Yesterday after corner marshaling the Mt Evans-Bob Cook Memorial-Hillclimb I was so baked from standing in the sun stopping cars from running over competitors, yelling at my compatriots for non-numbered riders trying to poach the course (we actually pay to shut down this road for this event, otherwise I wouldn't care), collecting tossed water bottles, cheering the slowpokes on...etc. I was too tired to ride with Kenny. So when our Natural Grocer's Boss Mr. T. came cycling along and told us we're done, I asked Kenny L. do you still want to ride? Thankfully he said yes. The day before he was scheming up a cool off-road with some on-road route that would take us over Oh-My-God Road to Central City and back to Idaho Springs. As volunteers we got the usual post race schwag but this year the T-shirts are cooler and we got a free sandwich from a local restaurant (being a vegetarian I gave my fleshy parts of my sandwich to Kenny). So after eating a Clif-shot and the lettuce, cheese, and bready parts of a sandwich and putting on a clean kit on a sweaty, stinky, warmed-over body (I especially love putting on form-fitting bib shorts on said stinkiness) we're off to ride in 95°F (35 C) temps. Here's an interesting description about this route Kenny chose from TrailCentral.com:
About This Trail: Oh-My-God road was once a major link between Idaho Springs and Central City. This road was critical for many miners bringing supplies to there camp by horse and wagon in 1865. Once the railway included stops in both cities the traffic along the road dwindled signifigantly.Along this road a great deal of mining activity took place, some ruins still remain to this day and add to the history you get to see while riding this trail.
Trail Description: The road is a well-maintained dirt road. There is a short paved section at the top, and the county is paving one mile of the road per year. Along the road, you will see many service roads branching off. Some of these go to national forest land, so feel free to explore. HOWEVER, some of these go onto private land with signs like this. We don't want to be responsible for anybody getting attacked by dogs, or shot, so please make sure you know where you're riding! The bike shop in town, Mountain and Road Bicycles (303-567-4666), carries an excellent map of the area. If you are planning on branching off of the main road, make sure you have a map.

Here's a link, to see the map as well as the profile.
Here's the video, thanks Map My Ride...

I especially like the if you are planning...have a map part. It was a rather fun exploratory ride for future references. The drag about the slight detours was usually after we bombed a downhill and we figured we went the wrong way, we had to 180 it and climb back out to retrace our steps. Kenny climbed in the big gear to get a power workout, I just pedaled to get over. We got all manner of friendly hints of NOT to ride your bike at Blackhawk, instead walk it to save the fine from the local po-po. We saw some abandoned mines, investigated its innards, and moved along. The weather was a little on the warm side but tolerable. After we bombed Central City Parkway we traveled on a little known (at least to us) bike path that paralleled I-70. It dumped us on the far eastern edge of Idaho Springs but what a cool path we saw and what amazing scenery we witnessed at the the top of OMG and Central City. There was some cool information a local gave us as we were filling water bottles up at Freedom Valley Resort. We also saw the town of Russel Gulch. A "town" in various stages of disrepair. Had that old, near ghost-town feel I witnessed riding around Jay's cabin in NM. High alpine mining towns are cool best witnessed with homies on a bike. Cool loops near Nevadaville we can explore on the 29er because the roads are sometimes unpaved out here in the old mining towns of Colorado. All of this information will be stored and used in late season or early season stuff when we need to pile on long-ish pedal rotations to get the body primed for (XC) race abuse and quality saddle sitting, gabbing with friends time.
Afterwards I meet up with the rest of Team M to celebrate mother in-law's birthday with some quality dinner components complete with imbibitions. Man what a most excellent way to end a most satisfying week. If you weren't listening, to recap: soccer with kids, listening to the TdF with my favorite winning, riding solo, riding with Kenny, celebrating mother in-law's b-day, and free socks and Clif products from our sponsor (thanks Kenny) make for a glorious week in this particular life. Mine...so there.

22 July, 2011

22 July

Since I don't have cable or dish I get my TdF fix by going to Velonews' live tour coverage via Mr. Pelkey on the internet. It is terribly addicting and really, that's the only reason why I'd subscribe to cable or dish is only for the month of July. Today's the 19th stage. Speaking of which, I have to say chapeau! for Tommy Voeckler. Hope he podium finishes. He's gonna light the fire for French cycling for the next couple of seasons. Chapeau to Tom Danielson and the other N. American Ryder Hesjedal. Tommy D might have a more than top 10 finish! Yeah! Go fellow Coloradoan!!!!!! The French people, if they were like Americans with winning Superbowls and Stanley Cups, would set cars on fire, loot urban areas and topple cars over because a Frenchy won the iconic L'Alpe D'Huez today (except Dallasites, they know how to celebrate without vandalism, just ask any Miami Heat fan, don't ask Cannuck fans).
Got my mountain bike back from the shop, just some adjustments to my hubs (loose), and dotting the "i"s like shortening an un-aesthetically long brake cable and shortening the steerer tube on my fork for the custom dial-in.
My bud Chip bailed for our planned road ride today so instead I check out my new and dialed-in 29er on a mountain loop out here. The course is an eighteen miler with about 2500' of climbing. The kicker was it was in 95°F temps. Completely yucky with no wind (and therefore no evaporative cooling). I park about a mile out and warm up towards the climb. The Mt. Falcon climb is where testosterone laden people like to PR the climb to the finish line: the sheltered picnic table. It's a three mile climb but it's kinda steep with just a shade of technical. Completely exposed and sandy at places. Since I'm technically a fat-ass for being four weeks off my bike (not consecutively), I slap it in the granny and go chilly-chill. As I enter the parking lot there's a downhill so get a nice head of steam heading into the ascent into the singletrack.
Of course there's a guy in front of me and sensing my head o'steam as I line up behind him on the skinny singletrack, it officially becomes a race (for him!). I see him pick up his pedaling cadence and he pulls away. Fine, it's like an inferno and if I pick up my pace I'ma have to pull over and puke so I just go chilly-chill, not breathing too hard. With my chilly-chill speed I eventually catch him on a technical part where he's near walking speed and I announce passing on your right and I fly up the same rocks my six year-old could've maneuvered. Kyeeot damn that testosterone. If I was the slightest bit fit I'da tried to crush him actually (kyeeot damn that testosterone!).
I brought my camera to take pictures but I was in the flow. If I were to stop I would stop waaaay too long to regain my internal temperature regulation but I don't, so I suffer all the way to the top parking lot, with my heart beating in my throat, where I eventually take the break.
I snap this (the only) picture on my way down to Lair O'The Bear and a gal passes me as I'm putting my Camelbak on. Usually this is the route people take to connect Mt. Falcon with LOTB. It's a long downhill so I don't pedal I just flow and I eventually catch her on the road. So I asked you want some company for LOTB or you flying solo today? She says yes (for company) and we climb to the singletrack. Once we get to the singletrack I ask if she wants first chair and she's off and bombing the downhills (being the egotistical guy I don't let her get too far away but she's cruising nonetheless). She gets a mechanical: her saddle comes loose. I carry my 4,5,6 triangle hex and while she tightens up the seat adjustment fore and aft bolts I ask if she races and sho' nuff she does (hence her bombing and ascending skills). After we leave LOTB it's a road downhill on highway 73 back to Morrison where we both parked.
Great ride albeit a hot mother scratcher of a day but with a nice surprise of riding with someone new that has skills. My 29er was an even more dialed-in champ and tomorrow after I corner marshal the Mt. Evans (Bob Cooke Memorial) Hillclimb, my homey G, Kenny, and I are going for a mountain ride to Blackhawk from Idaho Springs. Kenny pilots a Gary Fischer Superfly. Chilly-chill of course flying the Natural Grocers colors because that's how we roll (literally!). 29er love. Please go away now adipose tissue...

20 July, 2011

The NW passage

'Twas a sobering three weeks and now Team M forges ahead towards the Pacific Northwest. I'm all plumped up from all the eating from Texas and now we officially beginneth our holiday trek. You know what being on holiday means: if'ns I sees cupcakes, I be eats the cupcizzles (or Doritos or Fish & Chips...etc.). Let out another notch on the belt people!
Not really. I'm not letting myself go but it is vacation and I do need to decompress a bit. We stay two nights in Boise, ID. On the way to Vancouver and on the way back. Stayed at this cool, rebuilt Travelodge, aptly named Modern Hotel and Bar. Pet friendly of course, with hip(ly) designed rooms, live music and a bar (no false advertising here). Yea!!
Vancouver! Stayed at the Sylvia Hotel (pet friendly of course!) located in Stanley Park. We arrived on Canada Day.
This is the official day where all Americans have to say, aboot and ootside and any word with letter O, as if it were umlauted 50X during the day for a free Canadian flag and pin that I have to say, I'm wearing proudly. It's basically the Canadian Independence Day. Celebrated Canada by walking to Granville Island from Vancouver to partake in said festivities. You may use a bridge to walk/drive to Granville (as opposed to ferry); we walked...
heading back to Vancouver after a loong day's worth of celebrating and people watching...
Vancouver's pretty hip, clean, and serviceable. Vancouver also has some major traffic snarls so heading around by car can be a biscuit at times. Got the opportunity to talk locally to my Cajun brother Rory. He's picked up just a hint of a Canadian accent after living there for three years. Granville Island was an oasis of people watching, eating, listening to music, drinking Granville Brewery's brews, and experiencing a different country (albeit some things were similar) celebrating their day. Charlie, our one year-old Golden Retriever, was a big hit with the pedestrians (wet Charlie after playing on the beach) whenever I'd wait outside for the girls to shop.
Vancouver's celebration this evening included fireworks. Here's a shot I took from our Sylvia Hotel window.
Here's another shot at night in this vibrant town I took from our strategically located window.
Next day, saw the Capilano Suspension Bridge. High, arboreal suspended walkways between trees or scaffolded onto granite cliffs surrounded by a rain forest. Who doesn't like that? I guess people who don't like high, arboreal suspended walkways between trees or scaffolded onto granite cliffs surrounded by rain forests.

Whidbey Island, WA
(specifically Coupeville, WA)! Decompress, decompress, and more decompression people. Check out the house and location of the house we rented for a week to do nothing but read, beachcomb, nap, run, nap, watch the Tour de France, nap, repeat and rinse! The water (in Camano Bay when)at high tide came right up to the house almost. Nutty but (my) awe (was) full!
Here's our rental home for the week. Notice the Colonial Revival-esque era, Cape Cod styling with gabled roof complete with dormers...
Here's what I mean when I say the water comes up to the house.
This shot I took from our kitchen at sundown over looking the backyard and Camano Bay (which is part of Puget Sound).
This is where I opened my (The) Glenlivet, sweet Melissa purchased for me at the Duty Free Shopping at the Canadian border. In addition to Canada Day's fireworks we arrived on the 4th and I actually purchased fireworks and sparklers for the kids. Not to worry all of Team M still have ten digits.
The kids beach combed shells, made sand castles, played chase with Charlie and climbed steep sand cliffs where I graffitied their names high onto the bluffs next to other people's names etched with a sharp stick. Everyday was a new day doing this (as if it was their first time again) and they loved it while the adults read and sat on their butts on deck chairs looking at Mt. Baker in the distance and the lights at Oak Harbor in Camano Bay. Here's the cache of sand dollars Maricel scored on a particularly good day of beachcombing...
One day Team M (plus mother in-law) minus me went whale watching while I stayed behind with Charlie. When I went to pick them up at the ferry in Anacortes (Fidalgo Island) I arrived early and parked the car down the pedestrian walkway. I was expecting my Dad to come walking down the hill or come around the bend. As I kept thinking about him and all the vacations we took and the good times associated with it, it brought a smile to my face. I think about him all the time. Picked up the cell and dialed my Mom to see how she's doing. She misses him dearly (married 46 years, I'd miss my mate too).
Before I picked 'em up I parked Melissa's 4runner and Charlie and I went photogeeking at this landmark called Deception Pass Bridge. It's where Captain Vancouver (hey we just left his eponymous city!) entered and was deceived by the depth of these turbulent waters as he navigated into Saratoga Passage from the Strait of Johnny Fuca.
Here's the span of it...
Here's what you're walking over (it was super windy and the sidewalk was waaaay too narrow)...
We made a quick detour to Olympic National Park before we checked into the University Hotel in Seattle. Olympic is huuuge so we had time to only check out Sol Duc Falls and Lake Crescent inside this magnificent, old growth rain forest. On my hike to Sol Duc I was snapping away trying to achieve picture one-ness with nature. Here's one of the many picturesque streams on my hike towards the falls.
Here's my attempt at art by keeping the shutter open for an inordinate amount of time to make the water look dreamy...
Here's the actual Sol Duc Falls...
Seattle now. We went first to the Sculpture Park to checkout the Seattle Outdoor Art exhibits. I really dug this metallic tree.
After that we went to the Seattle Center. Built for the World's Fair in 1962 it now houses (just to name a few) the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum, and the Intiman Playhouse. These three buildings were juxtapositioned and all three had different hues of metallic plates adorning their shells. Oh and the Space Needle's there too.
Here's the reflection of the Space Needle off of the plates of the Experience Music Project building.
Next stop, Seattle's Pike Public Market. Yeah it's touristy but I never tire of people geeking and soaking up the local flavor (literally and figuratively) of a region that's completely novel and is a significant deviation from my habituated, daily, surroundings (Colorado still kicks a$$ by the way). If the Pacific Northwest were to take a chi-square test on its Pacific Northwesterly charm it would pass with 95% confidence and the null hypothesis can kiss me arse (in my bastardized statistical interpretation)! What we really appreciated other than the accommodating weather were all the talented street musicians pedaling their wares.
There was a Beatles knock-off band complete with a left-handed bass player (minus Ringo: peace and love); and a duo called The Jaded Optimists where they both played the guitar. In addition to their guitar playing talent, the dude played a washtub bass and the gal played a saw. Awesome-ness.
They played in front of the original Starbucks (for their elite-ness sweet Melissa and mother in-law got a rechargeable gift card created only at this location). What wasn't awesome was their AM sounding-recorded-in-a-bathroom-quality RW/CD we purchased but at least they earned their money and can eat that night. Saw the Mirror Man too. All of this and a picnic at the wharf? What else is there to do? Oh yeah, the Aquarium baby.
Long live the Pacific Northwest region and Team M! The Pacific Northwest, before we witnessed just a small sampling, always placed this picture in my mind of rugged, glaciated, expansive, coastlines with craggy shorelines (Pacific Plate-Ring of Fire) that butted up to rain forests where the population never strayed too far from its Native American origins (i.e. art, design, clothing) still rang true when we arrived. What a magical region. Could probably live here if I can get over Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to lack of UV radiation during winter.

Parting Shot. Dog is my copilot (at least sweet Melissa's). Charlie always, eventually made his way up front...