24 October, 2011

Evergreen Singletrack

The kit-less Sam K. at the top in Evergreen.  It's October, we're riding, hence the smile(s) 
 Ah yeaugh, Saturday was riding with Kenny L.; today was riding with Sam K.  Incidentally both of these fine peeps are not only my buds and teammates but they-we-also roll on 29ers.  I'm sooo glad that when I had the opportunity to by a new bike I chose the 29er.  Was thinking superhard on some closeout 26er dual boingers but the 29er's rolling inertia on dem big wheels makes going forward that much more funner (yeah I know it's grammatically incorrect but then again I am a science teacher).

Sam K. is a cyclocross nut.  He came in seventh on that last cross race we did together at Monarch High School whereas yours truly was 29th (getcha sum!).  Even though Kenny, Sam, and I started out as road racers, we hang up the skinny tires once mountain bike season hits (aka the WinterPark series starts).  Today, even though I was 15 minutes late, he waits and we meet up on the main drag in Evergreen and head off to Dedisse Park.  I've known this park has existed but never rode it.  Apparently it's pretty righteous as it also connects to Alderfer/Three Sisters Park via the climb near Evergreen Lake.  From the get go, it climbed and climbed and climbed.  About a third of the way up I had to peel off some layers and the day was shaping up to be another picture, postcard, perfect day here in Colorado in the Fall.   Sam had the local knowledge of  where the sweet singletrack was hiding as evidenced by the occasional hiker we'd see on our climb to Alderfer.  Since there weren't too many hominids perambulating this day, we took to quasi-blasting the downhill to Alderfer in a way where we could've stopped if we saw hikers.  Once back in Alderfer we hit the downhill of the gnarly climb we took to get here this morning.  Rode the road back and we parted ways.  Before we left, Sam was gracious enough to spot me some calories since I spent quite a bit of energy hanging on to him on the climbs.  I love riding with people with skill and it's a bonus when they're also your teammates.  Technically we could ride for the local race team but we've established some camaraderie with our Natural Grocers Racing homies; so we fly the Halloween colors as kindred spirits.
October 24th and we're still riding...

Was not looking forward to the 6.9 mile climb in the headwind to get back to my truck.  It was mighty painful but I was going from the endorphins and Clif-shots (our sponsor) from Sam.  Once back at my truck the Cateye read:  29 miles in 3h 1min. 

So what did you do today?  Did you make the most of it?  I'm on break.  I have to be super selective in gleaning what I can for recreation yet be compliant enough to be Soccer Dad.  All in all it's a pretty sweet combination as long as there is a semblance of balance (Daniel-san).  Speaking of making the most of it, a cold front's coming in Tuesday night and with it, it's bringing snow.  Come Tuesday I want to be fairly rode out without having to touch the rollers.

Shoot.  I think I'ma get a ride in with my college roommate tomorrow if I can figure out a time and meeting place...

23 October, 2011

Hello October Break!

This cow was scratching the top of its head on the side of the walkway when we got there.  That's Kenny across the way.
 October Break arrive and envelope me with your sweet arms of non-work, no fighting students, no belly-aching teachers, no needy pupils, absence of alarm clocks, with time to read recreationally.  Today's Friday, the day before my school's October Break.  Other than being completely frazzled and time mismanaged at work, the break arrives nonetheless.  It arrives as my mental state's on the verge of collapse with our district (as well the State really) functioning on a deficit (we all knew this is year two of "suck" as opposed to rebound), a new schedule my circadian rhythm's all cattywampus from, and juggling the schedules of three active chilluns, it tends to make one Cycling Dad's trajectory o'recreation and mental health kinda wacked!  Sweet Melissa's attending her cousin's wedding in Texas for the weekend and I get the privilege to hang with my two remaining kids.  Maricel has soccer almost the same time Mason has swim lessons so she's spending the night with Gramma.  This evening, the Moose and I are chillin' on my bed.  He's so pooped out he just fell asleep before I could read him a book.  Gramma, being the ever-awesome Gramma, agreed to watch the Moose and Maricel (after her game and swimming) so I can go ride with one of my teammates who lives nearby.  Gonna bust a 29er ride with him.  Speaking of 29er, did another cyclocross race on my 29er in Boulder last weekend and came in exactly underneath the apex of the bell curve:  35th out of 70.  It was a real fun race, with a "maze" portion and one barricade that had a notch where people were bunny-hopping it at speed-including me.  The sprint to the finish line was on pavement and it ended with me having a nice cushion from Mr. 36th place.  I looked back a couple of times to make sure I wouldn't get passed at the end.  Had that $hit happen before and I felt flummoxed for letting my position drop by one at the last possible minute.

The Murphy's Law of Weather-To-Outdoor-Recreate-In is in effect, which states: as the bourgeoisie toil at work the weather shall be accommodating and purty; whereas said bourgeoisie's days off will consist of cold weather complemented with precipitation.  I have cold weather gear.  I ain't scared; but it's a deal breaker if the temps hover near-freezing.  Everything's cold then, including your Willy and toes and when that happens, it's time to stay indoors.  Got frostbitten once at A-Basin skiing with Jay.  On my my nose and near my cheek.  It was weird.  Yeah.  Ski season I is sooooo looking forward to you too.  I wanna ride with another teammate who just moved near the area.  He's an excellent 'crosser and mt biker to boot but I ain't gonna ride on wet trails peeps.   My boy Hez-chilly's going to Moab with his familia this weekend.  Nice.

Saturday is a wee bit cold but glorious for a Fall Day in Colorado.  Talk about the phenomenon of synchronicity.  My brother just recently made the switch to tubeless.  Today, before I take my son to swim practice (he's kicking butt by the way), as I load up my 29er to go riding with my homey Kenny L. and notice that both my tires are flat from all the goatheads that gravitated to my tires in my last cyclocross race.  At the rec center I call Kenny and tell him my tires are flat and he suggests I by some Stan's sealant to make my tires tubeless.  How cosmically hip is that?  Once I get to Kenny's he performs his magic and voilĂ  (not more than 7 minutes later) I have a tubeless wheelset.  It also helps to get a UST compatible wheelset.  I have the Mavic C29 Crossmax.  Excellent design but a smidge heavy as a 700C, mountain bike wheelset.

Off we go to get a 3 hr, 35 mile ride in Boulder that consists of traveling on roads to hit some singletrack.  We meander around Marshall Mesa which goes over some private ranch lands and open space.  Kenny too has a 29er, a Gary Fisher Superfly.  Nice ride, also tubeless.  Oh yeah and it's a hardtail.  We can't believe how awesome today is weather-wise. 
Our view of the Flatirons from Marshall Mesa-ish.  Yes it's October in Co.
On one of our stops, a rider states that he saw some of our teammates in today's previously raced Interlocken Cyclocross event.  We used to have a very distinctive color scheme back in the day:  orange/light purple/white kits.  Now we're Halloween colors.  Oh well. We ride at tempo, cruise over rocks and the occasional cow patty and my tubeless wheelset's hanging tough and not losing any pressure although I did have to pump it up once when we were on the bike path.  Holding air nicely now.  The ride gets interrupted by milking cows loitering on the singletrack doing their niche as a primary consumer.  They're huge beasts and what resounded in my mind was:  I'm glad I'm a vegetarian.  Looking into that creature's eyes with that kind of mass and still knowingly consume it does not compute in my head.  I won't hold it against you though if you're a flesh eater (with no soul, selfish, artery clogging, ego-centristic species elitist). 

After I get my kids from Gramma, we travel home in order to do some familial bonding over a DVD only to find a tractor-trailer has overturned on our highway back home.  The jumbo-tron over the highway said, "Accident ahead, expect delays."  We sat for at least 40 mins.  It sucked.  I tried to snap a picture of the vehicle on its side with my cell phone.  See if you can make it out.
The median-barrier letterboxes it but see the cab on the left and trailer on the right?
 It's almost surreal because of the lights from the emergency vehicles reflecting off the cab and trailer like a billboard at night.  Once home, we hunkered down on the couch with Doritos and Dr. Pepper in hand to watch the 4th installment of the Shrek series.  Very cool movie both visually and of its plot.  At the end we all clapped with silly grins on our faces due to its wondrous audio-visual performance.  Kid friendly with some sly adult stuff.  Highly recommend it to y'all family types.  This is a good start to the Break.  Let's hope the new weather front isn't too harsh.  

09 October, 2011

The Seasons Are Kind Of A Big Deal

hello snow, it's been awhile...

Living in Texas for a couple of decades has desensitized my awareness-and therefore my (mental) sequential progression-for the seasons.  In Texas, it'd be Africa hot for months then boom, one day it dumps freezing rain (and all the hayseeds crash their dualies)  and I realize Fall must be here.  Living in Colorado, near 9000 feet (2700m), when the season changes it's a sensory experience.  It gets colder, the colors on the trees change, especially our Aspens that slowly tell me a progression towards Fall's coming, and eventually it snows and I realize I didn't harvest enough firewood. 
Happened moments before I got there
normally this is a two-lane interstate
Yesterday galvanized my transition (mental, paradigm shift to prepare for winter in the high country) to Fall as I drove to Grand Junction for my daughter's elite soccer team's game.  Grand Junction's a couple a hundred miles away going over-or under-the Eisenhower Tunnel in Summit County and Vail Pass.  Yesterday also had a Winter Weather Advisory because during my travel there it was also going to be dumping 5-10 inches (12-25cm) of snow.  Took the Tundra instead of the front wheel drive Camry because you need 4 wheels powering once the snow/ice crud accumulates on I-70.
Took some pictures of people who didn't prepare as they should have driving-wise.  Normally, I-70's a two laner but as we negotiated one of the many hills, this one on the way to Frisco from Breckenridge was particularly difficult for a front-wheel drive Honda Fit that got sideways trying to grab onto the snow.  We parted like the Red Sea to get around it.  Thank you four wheel-drive.  Living at our elevation, the bare minimum's all-wheel drive but to really negotiate the record breaking or the wicked one-day dumps, you also need clearance.  A pickup truck accomplishes both; furthermore you need the bed to haul firewood.

The forecast at Grand Junction was 55°F, partly cloudy with little wind.  It was actually quite pretty, with a tad bit cold thrown in to remind us it's Fall.  Maricel's team won 2-0.  Exciting to watch but not particularly looking forward to drive back home, especially if it's snowing again on Vail Pass (which it was).
partly cloudy and 55° F in Grand Junction
Snapped this beauty with my cell phone as we were leaving Grand Junction and heading towards Grand Mesa.
not bad for a cell phone, no?
Sunday morning, I get to survey the snow Mother Nature left us to recharge our well and to make our property aesthetically pleasing for me due to yesterday's (driving) trials and tribulations and my inordinately long, daily commute that make's the trade-off of mountain living digestible.
our Aspens from our backyard
Knocked out my first race of the season doing a 'cross race on my 29er which performed downright admirably.  Finished 29th out of 75.  Not bad for really not doing a whole lot of training this year.  My next 'cross race is this Sunday, the 16th in Boulder.  Should be fun.  Hopefully it won't snow.  Renewed my amateur license and I'm ready for 2012!  So these pictures are my visual reinforcement of Fall so now I have to gear up for my Auditory welcoming of Fall...

...which is the listening to sacred, choral music (Melissa reminded me of this recently).  I used to perform music in both symphonic band and choir and used to sing Handel's Messiah back in the day.  But what really made it endearing listening to sacred choral music was when I was stationed in Germany.  My friends and fellow airmen and I did a lot of skiing in the Alps.  My friend had a real nice 5 series bimmer and when we'd drive back to base from say, France or Switzerland, he'd always pop in Handel's Messiah.  Cruising the autobahn at night looking at all the gray bleakness of the snowtopped mountains and exfoliated, silhouette of  trees made the music (especially when the brass and screeching sopranos kick in) that much more ominous and brooding (the Fall/Sacred Music association).  The auditory clue that started my Fall connection was Melissa digging a radio broadcast of some Bach sacred music.  She researched their playlist and concluded it was Bach's Saint Matthew Passion.  We reserved it at our public library and it's made its way onto my iPod and iTunes library (rest in peace Steve Jobs), where it's currently resonating in my head.

Hello again Old Man Winter.  I don't particularly like the way you malinger here until May and knockout our electricity when you unleash your super heavy, wet, spring dumpages.   For now, it's alright and skiing's a'knocking with our WinterPark passes ready to be used up for some darned sweet family entertainment.