19 November, 2016

My 2016's coming to a close.

Well kids, been racing a lot this year, relatively speaking. More so than last year I think. Raced:
  • battle the bear (XC)
  • Firebird XC (mtb championships)
  • WinterPark Super Loop
  • Fat Tire 40
  • Three events from the MAC series
  • Two events from the Highlands Ranch XC series
  • Two events from the Table Mountain Peak to Peak Circuit Road Racing series
  • Tatanka 85 Mtb Race (in S. Dakota)
  • Four CX races
  • Ran a .5 marathon in Moab, UT.
Dis guy! My UT college teammate and general homeboy at Captain Ahab.
I accomplished a goal to cat up to IIIs in cyclo-cross. Actually won two more races and now race the open class which is kicking my arse. All the old pros are in my category and I. Am. Slow! Now I'm in chill mode. I still try and log in miles on the weekends but after it finally snowed here, I'm reluctant to race CX. One, I am a fair weather racer; two, I'm trying to save money for our trip to visit my brother in Phoenix; and three, I'm just tired although I kinda want to get my butt kicked at State's if it's not snowing, for one last hurrah. Thank you snow for sticking this morning and making my decision to not race final. Rode about 3800 miles up to now. That seems a lot. Only two road races this year. First time I raced road bikes in a while and I don't mind that at all (not a major road racer anymore). There were a couple of crits I thought I may have wanted to race; but no regrets. I'll stick to doing a couple o'crits in the Spring for my 2017 campaign.
That's probably why I did absolutely no training today. Reverted to my domesticated mode since my wife went to NXR to help coach her HS's XC team. I did laundry (I HATE folding laundry) and some general de-cluttering of our oh-so lovely home. I did so much of nothing resembling training, it resulted in a wicked pisser of a headache (after I attempted to shovel the snow from our driveway and sidewalk wearing my flip-flops nonetheless).
I won this race on a mtb thanks to my brother in-law giving me the insider trading on the course
I had thoughts of mtb racing for 2017 entering my head and how self-tortuously satisfying it would be to race in sunny, dry conditions; but 'tis an ephemeral neuronal excitation because I know what kind of physical pain racing a hardtail 50 miles entails (why did I buy a hartail again?). Speaking of which, my tubeless tires are getting bald and I'm not looking forward to busting the bead and bursting my thumbs as tire levers to put a new set of fresh rubbers on. Not feeling guilty at all, although I might be losing CX handling skills but with me putting in 80 mile weekends hopefully my legs can lay down what minimum watts my Garmin can record to remain 50+ mens open pack fodder.
On my chill weekends, it certainly does reinforce my lifelong commitment to ride. I think I enjoy riding by myself when I'm logging in long miles. It allows me to think, puts alpha waves in my brain, I listen to music on my earbuds (mostly Denver bike paths onto the foothills of Golden), stop and drink at my convenience in appropriately named convenience stores for convenience's sake. Even if it's cold, that's cool (no pun intended). As long as the surface is dry-even then I could slap on my fender for the run-off. Today, there was a group ride at 0800. I looked at the WeatherUnderground website to see what the potential temperature might be and it was only going to be 20º F. Not F in Fahrenheit but F as in F that! My racer friends still showed up for that ride. Said there was, "no wind." No thanks. Too much of a temperature deviance from what I can tolerate.
Hope y'alls cycling campaign was free from accidents and that you allowed yourself to eat a modicum of comfort food (i.e. junk food like Oreos® or VooDoo quality type donuts). I'ma try to roll on the road bike tomorrow. If I do great; otherwise, I'm ite with day two of chilling out.

27 June, 2016

The Fat Tire 40 experience

hardest and funnest XC marathon race yet!
'Twas a glorious campsite

June 25th was day of the Fat Tire 40. If you thought the mountainbike Colorado State Championships were hard (I accidentally/intentionally took the long course instead of the short), oooh buddy; you've never done The Fat Tire 40 in Crested Butte. The reasons for doing this event was two-fold: a) Crested Butte's the shiz-noid; and b) even though I hold The Firecracker 50 in very high esteem, I needed another quality race to break up the Firecracker 50 same-o, same-o years of back to back to back to back to back racing.

This range is behind our campsite!
Ain't it purty?
Thursday, we gather our camping stuff and headout past Crested Butte to a recreational trail/campsite called O Be Joyful with our bikes and our dog, Bianca. We were talking about the previous places we've camped near Crested Butte and Gothic. From the information we gathered and verified on the map, Karen's place seemed the closest and this was it! Albeit, back in the day she said it only consisted of three or four; now it spans the river and newer sites radiated outward. In fact, our site was so new, we broke in our fire ring for warmth and cooking our meals. Mosquitoes weren't too bad; they were as bad as the biting, metallic colored flies I suppose. We don't rough it as campers, we bring our arsenal of intoxicating, ethanolic beverages and our queen-sized air mattress that fits nicely into our giant tent. Unlike Karen, I am content to wear my clothes for several days (she'll recycle but for not as many days). That way, my odoriferousity discourages the aforementioned flies and mosquitoes from feasting from my complex, yet earthy infused O+ blood that has a floral bouquet and a bacon-like finish (odd because I'm a vegetarian) that pairs well with a tangy Havarti cheese courtesy of our Danish neighbors.
In the morn o' Friday, my bowels (and sometimes the letter "Y", aka Old Faithful) are telling me to shake a tail feather and before I walk the 200 or so meters to the Casa of Dueces, I grab my camera and Bianca. One of the more unique flora here is what the locals call Skunk Cabbage. Its scientific name is Veratrum californicum. It ain't so good for grazing but once it blooms it sure is aesthetically pleasing. I bring my parka because it's around 40-45°F in the morning. The Bonks and the parka-ed I, proceed to walk up to the entrance of our campsite.
The one and only...Bonks!
This is our dog, affectionately known as Bianca. Her various nicknames are (in no certain order): Poops, Pooper, Poopy, Poopsie, Punkin'-dookie (Karen came up with this moniker when she was suffering heat exhaustion somewhere in Nevada), Pooper-pot-pie, Squishy, Squish, Squishypants (from our eldest daughter), Lee Wobbly (auto correct from Siri when I voice texted, "Doggly-woggly"), der Bönks (like the ümlâüts?), Bonko, Poochie-woochie, Poochie-bear, Bootchie-bear, Bonk-bonk-BEE-bonks (Karen), Bonk-bonk-BEE-bongs (again, from Karen), Monkey Pants (courtesy of Karen) and Bing-bing (again from our eldest). We walk around main street Crested Butte and we pickup my packet for the Fat Tire 40 I preregistered for several weeks back. Swag was okay but the number plate sure was groovy. Our Friday plan is to have oatmeal on the ready Saturday morning for a pre-race meal then head out to the racer's meeting before our 0800H start time. Karen is my soigneur, director sportif, race director, and general race coordinator badass that if your significant other isn't this supportive, I feelz bad fo-ya.
Here's the damage inflicted from the 40!
Saturday's RACE DAY.  I don't take pictures during the race but it is BY FAR, the most intense, incredibly beautiful vistas, painful, rocky-rooty, tightest single track I've done mile-for-mile. Eagle County's single track is probably the most technical (due to the gnarly downhills) condensed into the least amount of surface area. The start had us rolling neutral-like up Mount Crested Butte then dropping into sum gnarly rock and root strewn single track. Climbing up road towards the mountain already broke up the peloton, why because the town's already sitting at eight thousand feet. If you're not a local you gotsta pace yourself. My fitness placed me climbing with a group of local pro women. We were climbing at tempo but not breathing like steam locomotive. Once we dropped down into the singletrack it was lights out. The flow had me respecting the trail because around blind corners there would be a bed of sharp, gnarly rocks ready to throw you off your line if you didn't unweight and bust out your anti-gravity skills. It seemed like I was already climbing when I ran into a racer I was climbing up the road on our neutral roll out. We commented on how gorgeous the scenery was when she broke my scenery hypnosis saying, "hope you have some legs left because the climbing begins now." Holee crap did it ever! I hit all the neutral support for nourishment. At mile thirty or so, my chain's squeaking to me, "Yo noob, I need earl!" due to all the creek crossings and dust as I roll like a novice in this otherworldly place called Crested Butte. Once we drop onto Gothic I trade pulls with a South African guy who calls Boulder home and we rip pass a grip of racers. One of them is a guy I dropped on the climbs whereas he drops me on the downs (I have a hard tail because I'm too purist and a scare-tee kat). On the last climb, I'm content to pull all the way back to the resort because he's no longer coming around nor do I expect him to because I can sustain this speed okay. Last single track on the ski resort and I'm expecting a full-on downhill. Hell no! We're climbing again. We're passing million dollar, ski in-ski-out mansions on the hill. They have the courses marked like ski runs. We're on Meander- a blue- and it's fairly feisty. I see an T-bone intersection with a Green diamond (turning left) and a Double-black diamond (going right) and I'm saying to myself, "We better be going left motha fu**a (I lose my internal filters when I'm hypoglycemic and in pain)!" The markers say 'right' and I swear there are more rocks than roots on the closing miles...

I interrupt the story for today's lesson: For you roadies, the difference between road racing (I started out as a road racer, in fact I'm a Cat III) and mountain biking is: burning matches vs rotating flywheel. There are so many attacks in road racing you burn metaphorical matches to stay with the attackers hoping to drop the group. The one with more matches to burn as the finish line approaches generally wins unless you have a sandbagger that made the final selection or your sprint can't be detected with current technology. With mtb racing, you hitch yourself with a group whose flywheel matches more or less the torque of the collective flywheel. Yeah you can attack but it's not very efficient in marathon XC events. The mtb bike winner has a combination of a very large (rotating) flywheel or is a savant on the downhills or weighs 135 lbs (61 kg) and climbs like a billy goat. Can I get an Amen (amen, brother!)? Now back to the story....

Ouch! Finally we drop back down to a service road where another racer grabs my wheel but I bury myself (turn you sumbitch flywheel, turn!) towards town and march the largest gear I have in my single chainring Intense in a breezy headwind and little by little a gap opens up in such a way I have time wave to my Karen as I cross the finish line. Did I finish respectably? Prolly not but finish I did, boi!!
Thank you Niky's!
Here's the nifty Garmin link to follow my lame arse on the racecourse. Before we take a nap back at our campsite, we replace our kilocalories with shakes (vanilla based ice cream with Strawberry syrup: Karen; vanilla based ice cream with Chocolate: me, both topped with whipping cream) and all-the-while sampling mini donuts like the Heisenberg, Mother of Dragons, Butterfinger, and Cinnamon Roll from Niky's Mini Donuts off Elk Ave. My Garmin said I burnt 2,585 Calories.
course profile and elevation gain/contour
Thankfully we have the wherewithal to book a hotel room after the race Saturday night so our weary bones can be supported by a nice King Sized bed with an unusually high Egyptian thread count after eating our weight in pizza provided by the Secret Stash and drinks from the Dr. of Pepper. We hit the hot tub and the pool that had random, light changes for ambience for some hydrotherapy and a general decompression of the day,  From our sun burnt, dehydrated, dull-aching joints, the water solicits a playful, nonsensical smile on our faces with full tummies and lifetime's worth of Vitamin D. Tomorrow we hit the Lupine Trail!
Karen trailblazing with our pooch faithfully following

The Lupine Trail: Bianca's a great trail dog. Karen's attempting to show Bianca how to drink out of a Camelbak spigot/bite; if she ever figures that out, Bianca'd be even greater. She'll follow whoever's up front faithfully but we go fairly slow in order to not wear out her pads or her.

We have to be careful when we cross cattle guards but Bianca's slowly figuring that out too. What's cool about this trail is when you're not bobbing and weaving through tight singletrack, it kind of reminds you that there are drop-offs that could really ruin your day. Here's Karen negotiating a lefty-loosey curvey-curve with a major drop-off should you fly off the single track.
flowing left with Crested Butte in the far, right distance.
Karen has skillz too and it shows as she climbs like Satan passing another couple. Sadly we're that couple that wears a matching race kit (but not all the time). As we hit the switchbacks, Karen's leaning and countersteering with her inside knee like a pro and I chase her back to car where our Bonko's completely cratered playing chase the humanoids on the church of rotational mass.
Our ride punctuated the end of a magical 4-day get away to dem dere hills with equally magical companions of the two and four legged variety.
To sum:
-Fat Tire 40=evil genius from the minds of Crested Butte.
-We ride/race so's we can eat.
-Karen's a unicorn.

PS: Karen just checked the results and I finished 4th out 14 in my division which is 50+ open men. Average, baby.

29 March, 2016

Adventures with Billy The Kid: Spring Break 2016 Days One and Two

obligatory pano shot!
Let me preface it with the week preempting our Spring Break we had two monstrous snow days and I took a personal day to watch my kids because their break didn't coincide with mine. Needless to say, I took my middle daughter skiing with me the Monday. Worked Tuesday. Snowed like the dickens including a wicked pissa of a blizzard on Wednesday (snow day). The remnants of blizzard were so awful; Thursday became another snow day, that leaves Friday as the remaining workday.

the effort and cold is about to take hold!
First day, (or the first day I did an official activity) Saturday. Met an old friend-a former teaching colleague-at Winter Park for some Spring skiing. Skied for six hours! Unheard of for a man of my advancing years.

Second day. Skinny Tire Ride up to Dead Horse Point State Park. Here's my Garmin info if you're interested...https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1103021517
Kevin left; Billy right.
Kevin was pretty hardcore. He caravan'd with us out to Moab to ride DHPSP only to turn around and go back home after the ride; but first let me tell you how it started...
When we arrived in Moab around noon we parked at the Discover Moab sign (parking lot) and were bummed that it was slightly cold but then again we left Colorado where we were socked with a blizzard less than a week ago. We figured wearing one layer would be good because the first thirty miles were uphill (yes, thirty). That strategy worked for a while..
climbing up 313 via my sly selfie!
Little did we know the weather turned south quickly!

Here we are probably twelve miles into the ride. Weather's cooperative, our legs were feeling spunky, and the road wasn't too steep. As we kept climbing, the wind gusts and the sun's rays were quickly becoming inversely proportional (you guess what did what). GPS is great for data; GPS is awful for the ability to look at data if you're OCD about the destination.  I knew we were getting close because the thirty mile point was our turnaround. What did I do? Kept looking at my Garmin and slowly watching the pot NOT boiling. Ever so slowly we finally reach THE SIGN for Dead Horse Point State Park; but we needed another three miles of rolling roads to actually get into the park. By this point we were echeloning to share the brunt of these annoying side gusts while the mercury kept dropping (it's actually red dye in alcohol nowadays). The picture on the right is a road sign telling people to bust a left. Three miles and six burning legs later we make it to the actual sign. Here, I slyly suggested we should turn around to beat the weather and the winds but Kevin wanted to actually go the visitor center and Billy said he was down. So who was I to be a stick in the mud? So off we go to the oh so warm visitor center that had a public restroom. When we were tying our steeds to the post a mountain biker asked where we started from. We replied from Moab and she said she was impressed by our cycling feat. I wanted to say, "Are you also impressed by our lack of warm weather clothes?" Kevin, thankfully lets me bum his windproof vest for the downhill.

My lovely wife Karen, suggested we have an espresso drink because they have a coffee hut there; but we were so cold we just wanted to turn around. Actually it was me who wanted to turn around. Kevin saw the sign for the actual DHPSP view point was another mile (damn brah, another mile? My semimembranosus tendons flanking the back of the knee was feeling like it could cramp at any moment). Of course I left my knee warmers back in Moab because we were starting out warm. Dummy! The trade-off for my self-inflicted pain are these pictures of Dead Horse Point.
The erosive powers of water
Amazing views aren't they? Of course the mile to get to these vistas are downhill, so after we take these gorgeous photos, the winds are absolutely howling so we bust a 180 to high tail it out of there! The road there's one of the highest, exposed roads in the town of Monticello so we have no break from the winds until we pull out of the rollers and it's finally turning into a full tail wind. Yay! But until that point I'm pushing it fairly hard to get my exposed, one-layered, non-thinking self out of that stress test. The downhill back to town's a blast. We sprinted to a sign as we got closer to 191. I jumped waaay too early and Kevin diesels past me for the the win for bragging rights. The weather was fundamentally warmer near Moab and we could even tolerate the head wind (that changed on us) that taunted us on our way back to the car on the newly paved (relatively new) bike path. 62 road miles in Moab. Kind of blasphemous since Moab is the Mecca of mountain biking; but, that's how we-wait for it-roll.

22 March, 2016

My first and last half marathon?

We all left from Robb and Jill's ranch after we dropped off the poochies. Before that, I woke up at 5 a.m. to finish my grades to post to the district's grading program my urchin's academic efforts (at least for people who have a password). It all started after Karen and Robb ran 'The Other Half" half-marathon back in October; and one day, when we were all sitting around during Christmas break, somebody in the group suggested we do the first half, half-marathon come Spring. Me being rather susceptible to peer pressure said, "Ah, what the heck." as did my brother in-law. So. Six hours later and after stopping by The Hot Tomato in Fruita for an early din-din, here we are in Moab.
 If you look at the numbers, we had the opportunity to put a personalized message on it. Mine was "Fly or Die," Karen's was "runforpeace;" Drew's: Dopers suck; and Robb's: the number for Jean Valjean when he was in the French pokie. Got in just in time to get our packet pickup and to sample the free goodies from Clif Bar, who happens to be our cycling team's sponsor as well. Coincidentally it happened to be my brother in-law's birthday so we had a we bit of birthday cake i brought from Cake Crumbs back in Denver. Drew snapped the plastic knife from the motel 8 and needless to say it was a messy yet rather delicious snack before bedtime.
starting to pile up.

'Tis go day. We're up and at 'em and here's what the start line looks like. The start time's at 10 and we're up there by 8:30, so we relax. Once we're off, we're hoofing it pretty good. Karen, Drew, and I have to pee rather fierce so we find a porta potty with a rather long queue and wait it out. Robb's not feeling good this morning so he keeps running and we'll catch up with him later. Later comes, and around mile 9 my IT band is absolutely SCREAMING and I tell Karen I have to walk because I am in pain. So this is how I finish: I walk a bunch and run in twenty second intervals until I finally cross the finish line. I'm motivated by the pace setter carrying the 2:30 sign. What a great motivator. I'm the slowest in my group with a 2:30h. Karen finishes with a 2:12; Robb, a 2:13, and Drew a 2:10. After looking at my Garmin my last 3 miles were 14 minutes a piece. Ouch! Not done with half marathoning. Want to do it free of pain next time as evidenced by my gimpiness as we walk back to our hotel.

We end our hunger at Giliberto's, formerly Los Jilbertos for a mostly empty but delicious refill of kilocalories. It was actually fun...we'll see if another opportunity arises.