Wednesday, July 28, 2010


One more day to work. I'm all packed and ready to go. I'll get on the road as early as I can on Friday for an   11 hour drive to Winter Park, Colorado. Depending on how I feel, and the weather, I'll ride the11 miles up Berthoud Pass just to add it to my list. If Friday doesn't work I can still do it Saturday morning before heading to Edward for the start of the CRMBT. Six days on the bike, with a rest day in the middle in Estes Park. Keep me in your thoughts for a safe trip, and if you happen to think of me on Tuesday, send some good mojo my way. That's the day we'll be riding up Mt Evans. If I can survive the grade, the altitude, the wind and the mountain goats I'll celebrate in Golden that night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

one week

One week from today I'll be heading west. I'm driving on Friday, probably to Frisco, and getting to Edwards for registration on Saturday afternoon. Then, on Sunday morning, the fun begins. This will be my third CRMBT, and my fourth Colorado bike tour. By the time I've finished this tour, I will have ridden over 15 out of 17 of the highest paved mountain passes in Colorado. In addition,  I hope to do the up and back ride up Mt Evans. The other two passes are Hoosier Pass and Berthoud Pass. If I made it to Winter Park on Friday, it would only be about 11 miles and a couple thousand feet of climbing to ride Berthoud before heading on to Edwards. Hmmm....
I hope to return on Sunday, August 8, with lots of pictures and a few stories to tell. I can hardly wait to get going.

Monday, July 19, 2010

stain on the yellow jersey?

I'll admit I was pulling for Lance to win one more Tour de France this year. Score one for the old guy? But I kind of expected Alberto Contador to win again, because he's so good, and so young. I like watching him climb, the way he dances on his pedals to keep his speed up. But after today I'm finding it hard to root for him.
I was watching live, even though I was recording the stage, as Andy Schleck started to accelerate up the last few kilometers of the climb. His chain came off and it took him two tries, and several seconds to get it back on and get going again. Alberto and others saw his mechanical difficulty put him in a "spot of bother" as Phil Liggett would say. The group seemed to not just continue on, but to attack, to take advantage of Schleck's bad luck.

By the end of the stage with it's fast, dangerous descent, Contador had erased the 30-some second lead that Schleck had started the day with, and was in the yellow jersey by 8 seconds. Phil and Paul disagreed as to whether Contador should have attacked, or waited until Schleck was back in the group.
I remember Jan Ulrich slowing the lead group to wait for Lance after a bag caught on Lance's handlebar as he rode by, sending him to the ground, hard. I thought it was a great example of sportsmanship, wanting to win on talent, determination, and heart, rather than someone's misfortune. I was disappointed to see Contador choose the path he did. And the fans around the podium were split as Contador donned the yellow jersey, half cheering and half booing.

I'm pulling for an Andy Schleck miracle.

All photos from the Tour de France website.

Friday, July 16, 2010

hot fun

I left work a little early and went home to spend a little time with four dogs. In addition to my golden retriever, brittany spaniel, and yorkie, Button, I'm taking care of Button's sister Aggie. She's very sweet and cute and loves to play and snuggle with her brother. Her Mom, Karla is in Los Angeles this week, and my wife, Beth is with her until Monday, so I have my hands full on the dog front, but it's fun. I borrowed this picture from Karla.
After they had some play time in the yard I managed to get in a nice, brisk 25 miles in bright sunlight that had temperatures in the low 90's, with a heat index near 100 degrees. I followed a road out of town further than I usually do to see if it would lead me to one of my usual loops. It did, kind of. Rough pavement, gravel and a hill would have had me turning around if I had been on my Trek, but I have that at the shop for a check-up prior to my Colorado trip, so I was on my Surly and just kept riding.

I'll need to tweak this route a little, or only ride it on weekends, because the traffic in the last few miles was more than I really like to ride in. But several miles prior were on great roads that weren't as busy. I even road briskly through several roundabouts, which had me feeling very Tour de France-ey. I ended feeling strong, no ill-effects from my tumble earlier in the week. I'm struggling to get in as many miles and long rides as I would like in preparation for CRMBT, but if I can get several more rides like today's and squeeze in a couple long ones, I'll be fine.                                                                                                                                          
I really like the way the route for this year's tour lays out. Very scenic, but not too hard 71 miles on the first day, followed by a high altitude 50 miles the next day. By the third day I hope to have my legs fully under me for the high point of the tour, literally. I'm hoping against hope that the weather cooperates, and I can add Mt Evans to my cycling resume, and have some stories, and pictures to show for it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

stormy weather

It was nice when I left the house a little after 7:00 this morning. A little overcast, but the sun was peeking through the scattered clouds, and the temperature was around 70. I had the Tour de France recording at home and hoped to get a good few hours of riding in before relaxing the rest of the day.
Somewhere around mile 15 it was growing more cloudy, but still a little sun, so I kept riding. The worst that could come of it was I would get wet. I decided to make it a loop that would get me at least 30-35 miles and hope for the best. As I reached the furthest west point and headed north I would have traded my sunglasses for some night-vision goggles. 
I reviewed options in my head for the eventualities of lightning, hail, tornadoes, but none of those things came to pass. For the most part, the darkest clouds, and the rain they contained moved away from me as I rode. I made a circle around it as it happened. The only way I knew it had rained was by riding on wet roads as I neared home. But it never rained on me.
I ended up with 42 miles and only a minor mishap. The last few miles to home I took the bike path to avoid the busiest streets. I should have known better. I hit something on the wet blacktop and went down hard. The fall pushed the brake hood on the left side in, but my drive-train was safely facing up. my buddy, Pat, would say "money side up". I lost a little skin on my elbow, bruised my hip, but really not too bad. My new Pearl Izumi bib shorts came through almost unscathed. When I watched Lance crash later, I could really feel his pain.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

hostel takeover

I just returned from a weekend at the Mississippi Headwaters Hostel at Itasca State Park north of Park Rapids, MN. There were 25 family members able to attend this reunion, so we were able to rent the whole facility. A few of us got up and headed for the golf course on Saturday morning. Great weather, and a nice little course.
A path led from the hostel to a bike/boat rental place across the park drive. And a short walk down the trial was a swimming beach and the Mississippi headwaters. Hard to believe that you can walk across the rocks at the start of the river, but they are slippery.
Besides trips to the headwaters, there were several trips to the swimming beach to cool off, and time on rented bikes, kayaks, and a pontoon. A little rain Saturday night and Sunday morning didn't stop us from having a campfire each evening, grilling pork and turkey, and playing yard games.
There were plenty of laughs, and plenty of smores. It was great to see so many family members. The only drawback was the 11-12 hour drive to get from Kansas to there. Leaving by 6:00am on Monday  afforded me some beautiful views as I drove out of the park and for home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

happy 4th of july!

I'm heading north tomorrow to spend the weekend at a mini-family reunion. We can't all be there, but most of us are gathering at Lake Itasca, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I'll get to see these two young ladies, my great-nieces, Clara and Grace. I haven't seen them since January and I'm sure they've grown a bunch since then.
I debated taking my bike along as there are some beautiful roads through the MN forests, but I would probably only squeeze one ride in around the golf, kayaking, and smores. So, training will start again in ernest next week. That will leave me 26 days before I drive to CO.

I felt really good before, during and after Biking Across Kansas, but have only managed a couple rides in the 2 weeks since. So, I'm setting a goal of 18 rides in those 26 days of at least 15 miles. I know that may not seem like much of a distance, but a hard hour of riding will be all I can squeeze in some days. I'll need to sprinkle in at least a few 50 mile+ rides, and hopefully, a century the week before I go. I'll have fun regardless of what CO holds for me, but I really want to be able to say: "Yes, I've done that".
Photos borrowed from Tim's Picture Guide to Mount Evans.