01 October, 2017

Post end-of-the-world ride.

Are you jealous yet?
Last day of September...must be Fall in lovely Colorado!
can you see the fog in the distance? still gorgeous weather...
Not going to blast y'all with a bunch of pictures of leaves changing; but, would like to tell you about my oh-so nifty ride today with two of my fave homies and a new friend I met on said ride. In Golden there's a wee, remarkable eponymous bike shop  that sponsors a ride called The Great Bonk.  Unfortunately with the rains as a portent to Fall, alas The Great Bonk 2017 edition was canceled. That didn't stop my friend Kenny L (aka Kenny Lanhammer, the Lanhammer, the Volvo dude), from creating a version of his own called the mini-bonk. It too would take place in Golden. The routes started from White Ranch (ouch) to Mountain Lion (double ouch). Has been ages since I saw--let alone rode--with Kenny and Austin.  Fortunately for us, Austin still has sangria in his system from this trip to Barcelona (they're voting on whether or not to stay with España this Sunday) so he wouldn't tear it up too bad on the ascents. When I received the invite from Kenny, needless to say I had to go. Weather might've been a problem but it wasn't. Waking up early too; but it wasn't. Being possessed by Satan before I left the house could've happened too, but it didn't-so off we went! Karen was at her XC meet with her team. This might be too much information, but as cyclists--especially before hard efforts/events--'tis oh-so important to bust out a boom-boom. It's good for activities where you don't have to spend precious energy digesting, instead that energy can be used for pedaling and steering and talking shite with your friend. Not only did I boom-boom once; but twice. I call it Operation Stage Two. Oh yeah...

0800 here in Colorado's rather chilly, chill-chill so i started off with a wind-proof vest along with knee and arm warmers. Peeled 'em before I started climbing. Austin said, "That's what you get when you get dressed in the shade." Yup, it was warm but I kept these items in my Camelbak-which would prove to be fortuitous as the day progressed. The weather as we climbed smelled of Fall and it was crispy in my nares. The wet, downed leaves and the soil, along with a smidge of humidity, reminded our senses of the previous days' rains as we rode up and over. The rocks were wet too so that made us fairly vigilant of traction so we wouldn't biff it and hurt ourselves or our bikes. Absolutely love the changing of the seasons and couple that with a bike ride with one's homies? As Gollum would say: preciousss (or as I would say, "Self, dat's precious)

Ben caught us we were ascending Belcher. As we rode up in our little spheres of influence (and fitness) we rendezvoused at the first bench. That's where I snapped this quadlie...
Look at the blue skies in the background! L-R: me, Austin, Ben, and Ken

At this point we could've taken a longer, not-so-much climbing route to get to Mountain Lion; but I suggested we take the more direct, nastier climbing route. At this part of the ride, the weather started to get cold. That's when I donned my arm warmers as we hauled ass over dirt roads filled with puddles in the potholes as we avoided the washboard surface and oncoming traffic on the tight switchbacks.

Mountain Lion's in Golden Gate Canyon State Park.  We got a bit led astray from the our memory of the last time we rode here. After a bit of trail mapping we got back on our path. Holy molee I forgot how gnarly the rocks are here. The rocky, wet singletrack with roots and sharp, slabs of rock creates ledges that tests your ass-behind-the-saddle confidence were a'plenty. I spent alot of energy scanning and analyzing (and braking on) how I was going to enter and exit these bits of technical, potential head-over-heels catastrophe type things with minimal steering. Needless to say, once we finished Mountain Lion Austin and I--the hardtailers--were done. We were physically beat. I suggested we ride the paved road back into Golden. Kenny and Ben hit the singletrack once we parted ways climbing the brutal climb back to White Ranch. After a rather long, preying mantis-style tuck (wearing my vest and knee/arm warmers), Austin and I made it back and headed over to Cannonball Creek Brewing Co.  This is where the most satisfying part of the ride-the conclusion, happened. As the beer attenuates one's social viscosity, Austin and I talked about why we arrived in Colorado. He too is a transplant and has Texas roots. We mitigated our reasons for why we are here: skiing, the sunny days, cycling both on and off road, the weather, and healthy, gastronomic vibes Denver emanates to whomever has their receptors on. As I ponder even more, the whole Colorado racing/cycling thing wouldn't have been this spectacular without the presence of a catalyst-Kenny. I met him in 1997 as a long term sub at Scott Carpenter Middle School in unincorporated Jefferson County as we both sat in the principal's office. He said, "Hey man, if you're into cycling you should come ride with some of my friends on the Vitamin Cottage cycling team." Then lo and behold, after an infinite amount of permutations later on my timeline o'life...Here. I. Is. 

The thought of replacing kilocalories with beer--at this particular junction of the day--seemed like a great idea; but now, that buzz rocked my alcohol intolerance mightily. Before that buzzkill arrived (in the form of a headache), it was nice to cogitate and self-reflect on how we precisely arrived here. Kenny and Ben finally showed up (Ben crashed near the end) and the viscosity dropped from 10W-30 to 0W-20 (the W is for wassup bitches!). The weather held out (it would rain later) and man, the beers and our conversations really punctuated the end of a righteous time outside, soaking up the UVs shared with one's (cycling) brethren (as our sore muscles quietly grumbled). When it was all said and done, 5451' of climbing and 32 miles (prolly 4 on pavement).

17 January, 2017

A Miscommunication Leading to Rather Auspicous Affairs.

Estrella Mountains, Arizona.
It's winter here in Denver so we were itching to bail somewhere warm to ride without cold weather gear.

Lem in action!
It started out as a simple miscommunication: Kevin told me that an airline company from Denver was having some majorly cheap, one-way fares. A couple of days later, my ex-roomie Grant told me that he was thinking of flying to AZ to do an early season mtb race. He never told me which race it was, so off I go checking which weekend I didn't have my most amazing kids AND an XC event from the offerings from The Mountain Bike Association of Arizona. What event fit the bill? The McDowell Meltdown (that wasn't the race Grant was thinking after I booked it). A 44 mile, marathon XC mtb race. After I VM'd Grant my intentions and got no response, due to my impatience, I went and booked the flight. I didn't take my bike because of the largess of my older brother letting me use his sweet Ti Rigor Mootis. Hells yes, a triple chain ring, 26" tubeless wheelset (baby!) with yours truly piloting this retro sweetness. After I booked the flight and made sure everything was okay with crashing at my brother's house (including my teammie Kev and ex-room dog, Grant) I told Kevin and Grant, and voila, The Three Stooges were AZ-bound.

Getting ready for an ass handing! L to R: Kev, me, Grant
Have I mentioned how awesome my brah and sis in-law are for letting bike trash hangout at their house for the weekend with bikes and gear (and stink) to boot?  And, my most badass wife for being my complicitor? Yeah, I'm thankful.

Been checking weatherunderground and it's not beach weather clothes in AZ for this event. In fact, it's going to be cold and rainy with intermittent sunshine, hence the picture shows us with arm warmers (not shown, base layer). Our flight's delayed, so we call Trek West in Phoenix to tell them of our setback and to please stay open so we can retrieve Kevin's rental bike (a DS Trek Fuel EX 8 or sumpin).  Brandon from Trek, stays late and we retrieve the bike; and, he offers us beers because we're starting our vacay. Thank you Brandon, you're awesome and I can see why you run the shop. Kevin and I will pay it forward (somehow). So Lem, Kev, Grant, and I gather our gear and we're off to the races in Fountain Hill in Kevin's rental and we register as competitors. We're not itching to line up front because we're unfit, CO boys grateful that we can do an early season race. We don't have nearly the legs the AZ boys do because they are in the heyday of their season while we are in our nascent part of 2017 (along with the snow and cold temps that comes with living in the rocky mountains). I do admit though, the road patron Byron's, still organizing World's aka The Hour of Power every Saturday whenever there's not a foot of snow on the road-regardless of temps. And. It (Worlds). Is. Hard. 

Speaking of temps, Kevin and I train on single track snow whenever it's below freezing so as to not tear up the trail (i.e. starting off at 22º F, is a bitch); and, we did get some miles in over our Christmas Break.

last staging
Here's a parting present Kev's bike picked up
Once all 70-ish of us marathoners start (we're on the last) there's a bike in right angles to our thundering herd because of a snapped chain. Nutty. We were going chilly-chill, tempo speed but the testosterone poisoning got the best of me and once I saw an opening I ripped it. The course was fast and flowy and I succumbed to the moment (but mostly to testosterone). Once I was in a pack of similar fitness, I wanted to flex my averageness on a climb, so I kind of ramp up the watts and start passing. Lo and behold a girl passes me with some heat behind her. I match her speed and notice that she starts to fade so I pass her back up. I pick off the pack I'm in and start to settle as the sting sets in my quads. As soon as the downhill starts a dude on a DS rockets pass me and I try to stick on his wheel. Another climb starts and when I pass him I say some words of encouragement, and lo and behold! homegirl passes me back up and increases the gap. The hurt in my legs says chill. The next segment of road is slightly flat and mostly serpentine. The wind changes direction-towards my backside-and I slap it in the large chain ring and I pull away from the group trying to maintain 19 to 20 mph on this little segment. Note to self, unlike CO singletrack ripping where you can lay it down motoGP style in the corners, you don't do that technique here. One, it's kinda gravelly; and two, when you go slalom bumping/apexing in the corners you might just bump or apex onto a Saguaro or a nasty Cylindropuntia fulgida aka a mother scratchin' cholla cactus! That y'all, is what qualifies as supremely NO BUENO.  Grant passes me as I'm starting to get gassed and I can't hold his wheel. Eventually I finish the big lap of 33 miles and switch onto the 11 mile loop. At this point, I am cramping severely and the chump change, low mileage categories are starting to pass my low blood sugar, high lactic acidified legs-self. I eventually reign it in and go into self-preservation mode, barely hitting 10 mph on this undulating part of the course. I open up two Clif blok energy chews and eat all twelve cubes in less than 10 minutes, that's how hypoglycemic I was.  My hard charging college roommate finishes in 3:26 and Lem and he wait for me at the finish. I pass a couple more hominids on bikes before I finish in 3:34 and the three of us  wait at the finish line for Kev who finishes in 3:40. After crossing the finish line,  his legs lock up due to cramping as I hold his bike and we relive a scene from the movie Alien. Instead of the chestbuster scene, it's the gastrocnemiusbuster scene. His cramps are so intense you can see the spasms undulating on his calf. His effort, resulting in gastrocnemiusbuster punctuated our lack of fitness, and our singular desire to race. Great race course although I wish it had feed stations. I raced the 44 miles on two water bottles, two Clif blok packets and testosterone poisoning. Averaged 12.35 mph. Would tell you more but my Garmin $hit the bed.
All done. All smiles.Now onto our next adventure. That's my bro in the civies.
we race for this!
Later that evening we have a celebratory soirée. We pick up my Mom who knows that Grant and Kevin are going to be at Lem's. It's been at least a decade since Grant's hung out with my Mom from our younger, road racing days back in Plano, TX; and my Mom knows Kevin's one of my BFFs here in Denver who happened to help me through my divorce and introduced me to my loveliest of lovelies: my Karen.
On Sunday, with our weary, post race heavy legs, we hook up with Lem's AZ posse to put the final nails into our legs' coffins. Marc's the aspiring racer so he puts us in our paces with our legs a'screaming but damn was it fun chasing everybody out at F.I.N.S., Estrella Mtn, and The Secret Trail. Jack's a full suspension homie with skillz that shows us how technical's done. Here's the AZ posse.

L-R: Kev, Jack, Marc, Grant, me at Estrella Mtn

At the Sky Harbor Airport to head back to Denver, who do we see? Hez-Billy, thus completing a fortuitous meeting of the Homie Trinity.

To sum: I am grateful and honored to be surrounded by such competent, witty, flatulent, gastronomically hip, caring, avuncular, fit, funny, quasi-hardscrabbley brethren and sistren on this adventure!