Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Here we go again! I know I'm lucky to be able to make 2 trips to Colorado this summer to ride. I'm leaving first thing in the morning to meet my brother-in-law, Bruce, in North Platte, NE. We'll take his van with bikes and bags in the back and head for Frisco. Friday will be cycling around town and heading out on the paved trails to Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. We'll check in at Copper Mountain and get ready for Saturday morning when we'll ride the Copper Triangle. Then on to Montrose to meet up with Pat and Rick, and get ready for Sunday and the CRMBT.

The first leg of the CRMBT will be the only part I have done before. BTC went from Montrose to Crested Butte on day 4. We will only be riding as far as Gunnison, so it will be a nice first day to get your legs ready for the rest of the week. We'll ride over Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit, and along the Blue Mesa Reservoir on our way into Gunnison. The rides to Crede, Pagosa Springs, Durango, and Ouray will all be a new adventure, and I can't wait. I'll post again in a couple weeks, and hopefully have some good pictures and good stories. Be safe and have fun in the meantime.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

morning ride

It was raining when I went out to go for a ride this morning, so I turned around and went back in to watch the rest of the Tour de France. After seeing Lance hold onto third place I tried again. It was done raining, just spitting once in a while. To ride towards clearer skies I headed east and then south on Old Metcalf. This road used to be a main highway south, but now is a lightly used road, except for cyclists who often ride it on weekends. It's about 15 miles south to Louisburg, so it makes a nice round trip through a couple small communities, and lots of cornfields.

The corn is tall, I'm talking Field of Dreams, walk into it to??? tall.

This is a view from what passes for a hill in eastern Kansas.

I saw lots of livestock on my ride and liked the way these horses were reflected off of the pond.

I got about 60 miles in today. Tomorrow I'll do a similar ride and then a few shorter rides early in the week. On Thursday I leave for Colorado again. I'll meet my brother-in-law in North Platte, NE and get to Frisco that night. We'll spend Friday biking around town and over to one or two ski areas accessible by paved trail. We'll also check in and prepare for the Copper Triangle ride on Saturday before heading to Montrose that evening, meeting Pat and Rick. Then Sunday it's the CRMBT. I'll take lots of pictures and come back with stories to tell.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

an affair to remember

Our love affair was beginning to cool. After our long-awaited getaway, doubts had begun to creep in. She's beautiful, and can be a joy to be with, but it's also in her nature to be cruel. I have tried to show her my love and devotion, but what I've received in return has run the gamut from ecstasy to misery. I needed a little time away. Besides, I had other obligations to tend to. I spent only a short time with her in the weeks following our trip. I considered bringing her to a wedding I attended out of town, but decided it was too soon.

Maybe I was being overly sensitive, taking things too personally. In the short time I've known her she has brought me much joy. I have many wonderful memories from times we've spent together. Relationships take work and commitment. It's easy to be close when everything is good. During the hard times you learn how strong the bond really is.

This weekend I decided I needed to spend time with her again. Friday night we only had an hour together. Though I still could feel the sting of the pain she had caused, it was good to be with her again. Saturday we spent the entire morning together, and it was just like when our relationship was new. Enjoying a beautiful morning together remind me of how I fell in love with her. I didn't really have time this morning, but I just had to see her again. It was only another hour, but it helped me realize that I was right not to give up on her.

I know she won't always treat me exactly the way I want, but I also know that she is only being true to her nature. She is what she is, and I accept that, and love her for it.


My bike. I think I'll keep her.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

sprint to the finish

The last day of the Bicycle Tour of Colorado was another 100 mile+ day with the route taking us from Buena Vista, along the Collegiate Range via Highway 24, to the turnoff for Twin Lakes and Independence Pass. Then down the other side to Aspen, and on to the finish at Glenwood Springs. In the interest of full disclosure, I crossed the finish line at about 30 mph, but, I was in the back of a van.

The morning started well. I was on the road by 6:30, the weather was great, and as had been the one constant all week, the scenery was magnificent. Well, another constant throughout the week was the route laid out for us each day was HARD! I couldn't help but think that I should have trained more, prepared for altitude better, been younger. I hadn't regretted catching a SAG after the Colorado National Monument, or in the freezing rain at Cottonwood Pass. Well. I had some regrets, but I still preferred the SAG over the alternatives. But, by the end of the week, the accumulative effects of the tour were catching up to me. I was sore, my head hurt, I was tired, and I had reached the conclusion that I didn't want to do any more week-long tours by myself. It's so much more fun to have someone to commiserate with each evening.

I rode about half the route, almost 50 miles, climbing slowly towards the high point of the day. My speed was better than I expected, but it still took me more than 4 hours. The prospect of another few hours of climbing once the real climb started were not appealing at that point. Then a descent down winding, narrow roads, barely wide enough for two cars, followed by a fairly flat 40 mile ride to Glenwood Springs. I had had enough. Feeling defeated, I caught a SAG to the end, retrieved my car and my bags, took a quick shower and grabbed some lunch, and got out of town.

I had a reservation in Frisco, and it felt good to take a hot bath, sleep in a real bed, and not have to pack up a tent for an early start for home. I didn't even have the energy to look around Frisco that evening. I went to a Safeway across the street for dinner I could take back to the room, watched a little TV, and fell asleep before 9:00pm. I was on the road by 5:00am on Sunday to get back home to my wife and my dogs. I did stop in Georgetown and snapped this picture. The sun was up, but hidden behind the mountains. Still, it lit the sky enough to reflect off the lake.

I had a wonderful time, saw scenery that I will never forget, and learned to be careful what you wish for. If you choose an epic adventure, be ready for it. This was a great route, a great tour, but it kicked my ass! I got home tired, happy, a little humbled, and ready to try it again in August. The next one will present plenty of challenges, but on a little more manageable scale. Assuming I can make it through that, I'll look forward to the next tour, maybe through a flatter state.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

unfinished business

Clouds were hanging low in the sky as I prepared to leave Crested Butte for Cottonwood Pass and Buena Vista. As you can see, although I was ready to hit the road before 7:00am, several riders had already packed up their tents and taken their bags to the luggage truck, and were on the road. Unless you're a very strong, fast rider, leaving early would turn out to have been a good idea.

We headed south out of Crested Butte to Almont, hung a left and headed along the Taylor River towards the Taylor Park reservoir. The clouds were breaking up, making for very comfortable, cool riding weather. And, on a trip that has offered incredible scenery day after day, this day didn't disappoint. The area around Almont offers numerous opportunities for stays in a rustic cabin, trout fishing, and just being close to the best that nature has to offer.

I reached the first aid station feeling good, thoroughly enjoying the surroundings, and confident that the rest of the day would be an excellent adventure, to add to all the adventures I had enjoyed throughout the week. There were photo opportunities at every turn, and there were times when I had to pass one up simply to keep making progress on my ride.

The ride between Almont and the reservoir was on a road with some, but not too much, traffic, and we passed by several trailheads, fishing spots, and campsites. There were places to pull a small trailer in, and many more reserved for just tents. I thought to myself how fun it would be to camp along here and go out riding during the day. At this point we were climbing, but the grades were not too steep and the views made it totally worth it.

The clouds moved back in as the morning wore on, but a light jacket still felt just right. I felt a few raindrops which made it a little cooler, but made it to the reservoir in good shape. However, by the time I made the last couple of miles around the reservoir to where the second aid station was set up, the rain had gotten heavier, and the temperature had continued to drop. At the aid station is where we were scheduled to make a turn onto an unpaved road for the last 14 miles to Cottonwood Pass. We had been told that the road was hard packed and very rideable, but as the rain came down I began to have doubts about riding on a dirt road on a road bike, in the rain!!!
I asked at the aid station and was told that a SAG would be back shortly on which I could catch a ride to the third aid station at the top of the pass. I wouldn't get to climb a new (for me) highest pass, but would get to enjoy the paved descent into Buena Vista. Or so I thought.

As I loaded my bike on the trailer for the drive up, the rain came down harder. By the time I climbed in the van, I was soaked and chilled. When we reached the top the temperature was considerably lower, the rain harder, and a fog had moved in making visibility poor. Tour organizers were warning riders about the dangers, and strongly suggesting that they would prefer that  descending wasn't attempted at that time. I've got to say I wasn't crazy about the prospect of a rapid descent when I couldn't stop shivering. I had other layers with me but they didn't help much after I was already wet. There were so many people in various stages of discomfort that we huddled together under an awning in a group hug for warmth. If someone couldn't stop shivering, or had blue lips, we shuffled them to the center of the group. Finally, we were told there were some trucks to take us to Buena Vista, but we'd have to leave our bikes at the top. They wanted to get all the people off the mountain, then they would get the bikes down.
That is how 60 of us ended up in the back of a Ryder truck. Cold, wet, and tired, but generally in good spirits. Some complained of some nausea and claustrophobia from the conditions, but everyone around them did their best to help them stay calm. People were leaning on total strangers, and everyone was looking out for everyone else, making the best of a bad situation. I called my wife later and told her I had a near death, okay, near extreme discomfort experience, but had come though it in pretty good shape.
In Buena Vista I found my bags and found a piece of ground to get my tent set up. Then I went looking for my bike. Luckily, it was on the first truck, and I was able to tend to it. Trust me. that chain really needed cleaning. I wonder what it would've looked like if I had ridden on the dirt. Overall, though not what I had in mind, it was still an adventure. I was pretty pooped that night. A little bit of a cough and a headache, but for all I had voluntarily put myself through, not too bad. By the way, it doesn't have to be anywhere in the near future, but now I have to go back someday and ride up Cottonwood Pass, finish what I started.
What Happened?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

welcome rest day

Thursday was a rest day in Crested Butte. I had never been there, but I had heard that it's a cool town. Crested Butte has an eclectic, artsy feel to it. It's small enough to walk across town and back in less than 30 minutes. I would guess the whole town is less than 1 square mile, and it located about 3 miles from the ski area of Mt. Crested Butte. Many of the houses are decorated in a funky style, and art is part of the scenery. I found a lot of cool shops and restaurants, and if you're a skier, you really should check this place out.

As you walk around Crested Butte, the snow-capped peaks are always in the background. I wanted to see what the town looked like from that higher vantage point so I rode the free shuttle to Mt. Crested Butte and hiked the ski lift for a ride to the top. Like seemingly every day in Colorado, the views were spectacular!

The next couple of shots are of the village of Mt. Crested Butte.

After a ride back to Crested Butte, I spent part of the afternoon walking around town, and part of it in the park enjoying the Fat Tire Bike Week bike expo. There were booths by Trek, Specialized, Zipp Wheels, and others who sold clothing, lube, racks, tires, and more. There were food vendors, many from local restaurants, so finding lunch was easy. And there was a dj playing music and announcing winners for a raffle for BTC riders. About mid-afternoon a live band played for a few hours. They were pretty good. Unfortunately, laying in the grass enjoying the experience I felt the first of many raindrops. I made my way back to my tent and enjoyed a nap while the rain cooled things off. Being only about a block away from the park, I could still here the band as I lay in my tent. Nice.

After the rain the world had a nice, clean smell to it, and I walked through town again to a place I had seen earlier. I think it was called Fantastic Pita. I had some hummus and a gyro sandwich, and watched ESPN on the first TV I had seen in about a week. Then it was back to try to get organized for another day on the road. I read a little in my tent and listened to the sounds of those around me. It's amazing on a tour like this how there's so much noise and activity each evening, but by 9:00pm, everything goes pretty quiet. They'll start serving breakfast at 5:00am and the first riders will be gone about the same time. Goodnight Crested Butte.