Saturday, December 29, 2012

flipping the page on my mayan calendar

Maybe that's all the Mayans meant, flip the page. Or buy a new calendar. Anyway, it wouldn't have made sense for me to review 2012 as a cyclist if the world was ending anyway. But's a look back at my year in cycling.

One pleasant part of 2012 was the mild winter. Several rides in January and February were comfortable with little more than long sleeves. And I even got in some hill repeats and a 50+mile ride by the end of March.
In June I returned to South Dakota for my third Tour de Kota. This year was a loop beginning and ending in Dell Rapids. It turned into a tri-state affair when we spent part of one morning in Iowa, and most of another day in Minnesota. This TdK featured the first overnight outside of South Dakota when we were hosted by Marshall, MN. It was a fun tour with lots of rolling hills and lots of miles for six days in June.

In addition to lots of solo rides in July, I spent Saturday mornings riding with Brad, Roger, Bill and Rodney. And when everyone else had other commitments, Roger was ready to ride as he was training for the MS150 in September. It helped me continue to pile up the miles prior to my next tour, the CRMBT.

When August arrived I was excited to get back to the mountains of Colorado once again. I couldn't even wait for the tour to start, heading towards the New Mexico border to ride La Manga and Cumbres Passes before going south to Chama, NM and northwest to Pagosa Springs.
My fifth Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour was filled with old friends. It was great to see the organizers, volunteers, and riders who keep coming back to this tour, as well as meeting new friends.

The route covered some ground I had ridden before, but in the other direction. It was still beautiful to ride Wolf Creek, Slumgullion, and Dallas Divide. Then I explored some new roads when we headed to Telluride for a rest day, and on to Lizard Head Pass and Hesperus Hill before returning to Pagosa Springs.
September and October felt a little anti-climatic pedaling around eastern Kansas after climbing the peaks of Colorado, but the weather was great and I still got lots of good rides in. Since then the weather, and feeling under it, have kept me off the bike. But I'm already signed up for next August. And if it ever warms up, I'll be back on the road. In the meantime, I guess I have to get on the trainer. It's not the same.

Happy New Year to you and your families!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

bicyclists are coming to town

To the tune of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”

Alert the motels
Ready the school
Let the restaurants know
To serve something cool
Bicyclists are coming to town

They’re taking a tour
All through the state
Colorado in August
I can hardly wait
Bicyclists are coming to town

They’re riding in the morning
And in the afternoon
And if a cold one waits for them
Then they hope to be there soon

O! Alert the motels
Ready the school
If your town has one
Open up the pool
Bicyclists are coming to town
Bicyclists are coming to town

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

mostly plants

I haven't written much about riding lately, because I haven't done much riding. Many folks around here have been battling some kind of virus?, that seems to hang on forever, and I count myself among them. Therefore, even though we've had some nice days in November and December that would warrant a ride, I've stayed indoors and tried to get to feeling better. I think I'm close, and hope to be back on the bike soon.

As for my transition to a vegan diet, the "sacrifice" of it has been surprisingly easy. The logistics of it are a little more of a challenge. Giving up meat and dairy was easy for me as long as I'm cooking for myself and making my own choices. But, there are so many things I never thought about before that can make it harder. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with some friends, and passing on the turkey was easy, but I did eat a little of the cranberry salad which I'm sure had whipped cream in it. And the yams or sweet potatoes, which I love, had marshmallows on them. And I was OK with deviating a little from my normal routine.

Before I headed down this path I never thought of marshmallows as something a vegan wouldn't eat. After learning that the gelatin in them comes from animal byproducts, I get it. And when my wife asked if I still was taking fish oil supplements, I told her that I was, and honestly, it hadn't even occurred to me to stop. Then I realized that the "fish" oil and vitamin D, that have long been part of my morning routine, are gelcaps, my eyes were opened further.

Some people have asked why I would even want to make such a drastic change to my diet. I totally understand, and wouldn't expect everyone to even want to do it. But for me, it started as a way to better health, and a preventative measure against future health issues. As I learned more I liked the idea of having a smaller footprint on the planet. It's just one person, but everyone can do what they can. And finally, I've long been bothered by the little I knew about the way many animals are raised and processed. Not enough to do anything about it before now. But now I've found my way to this place, and I think I can do my small part to help.

I've met people who call themselves strict vegetarians, and mostly vegans. And as far as I'm concerned I don't need to worry about labels. I'm going to keep trying to make healthy choices, forgive myself when I don't, and do what I think is right.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

everything is holy now

When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don't happen still
But now I can't keep track
'Cause everything's a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything's a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn't one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I'm swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven's second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
'Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child's face
And say it's not a testament
That'd be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it's not a sacrament
I tell you that it can't be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven's second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
'Cause everything is holy now

Sunday, November 11, 2012

hug a veteran (from 11-10-2010)

When he was 16 he joined the CCC. When I was 16 I was trying to grow my hair as long as I could.
When I was 23 I was trying to "find myself". When he was 23 he found himself on the beach at Normandy. I don't think I'll ever be as much of a man as my Dad. But, he gave me a great example of what it means to be a man. If I even come close, that's pretty good.

 Happy Veterans Day and Thank You to my Dad, and all veterans!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

crmbt on pbs, omg!

Rocky Mountain PBS is now the official media sponsor for the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. Peter sent me a copy of the ad running on public TV in Colorado. Click on the black bars on "road tunes" in the sidebar so you can hear the audio. A few of the pictures used were taken by yours truly, including the line of cyclists on Trail Ridge Road. And there's also a shot of me on Independence Pass in 2011.
If you think this looks like fun, you're right! Come join us next year for another CRMBT

Sunday, October 28, 2012


If you think you might like to do a bike tour in the Colorado Rockies, but logistics have stymied you in the past, this may be the tour for you. The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour runs from August 4th-10th, 2013 over 469 miles of beautiful scenery. And next summer the tour starts and ends in the Fort Collins/ Loveland area. The proximity to Denver will make it an easy place to reach from anywhere. And even with a century ride planned for the last day, travel arrangements will be simpler with the airport and several Interstate highways close by. And, if you sign up before the end of October, you can save some cash with their early-bird discount.

I haven't been on the bike much lately due to a lot of really handy excuses. But today I'm layering up and heading out for a spin. One of my favorite trails has been closed due to road work, but a friend told me it's not a bad hike-a-bike to get across the construction area on weekends. The forecast is kind of cool for my tastes, but sunny and calm. I'll take it!

And, finally, my foray into the world of the Vegan diet took a hit on Friday night when I went out to dinner with a friend, to Oklahoma Joe's BBQ! I think the only vegan item on the menu was french fries. So I ate the better part of a pig. But, yesterday I got back at it. I tried a couple recipes featuring sweet potatoes. The hash was really good, the stew not bad, I think I just need to adjust the spices a little. Today I'm going to try my hand at a tofu dish, and a healthy granola bar.

Since being introduced to Forks Over Knives I've been kicking around the idea of a whole food, plant-based diet. I haven't made a big declaration about my intentions because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, or what I was capable of doing. But, since I altered my diet a couple years ago to avoid medication for my cholesterol, my diet has been mostly fruits and vegetables anyway. Oklahoma Joe's notwithstanding, I don't really eat much meat anymore. So I don't think it will be a drastic change, and I think it's something I want to try. So I'm going to try to eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

vegan baby steps

I haven't been riding much lately. Some days have been filled with driving to North Dakota to visit in-laws, some have been filled with brutal winds. The last time I rode I headed straight west into the wind and when I turned around to go home I made the same distance in about half the time. I'm hopeful that the fall will offer some mild weather to get in some good, long rides.

There have been some workouts, though. I learned that a sore shoulder, which I feared was a torn rotator cuff, was not yet torn, but aggravated from less than perfect posture. Several sessions with the physical therapist have given me stretches and exercises to improve posture and strengthen my core. I've already noticed an improvement in how my shoulder feels after a ride.

Finally I've been perusing The Engine 2 Diet, and The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook. I'm not following the E2 diet, but the book is helpful in stocking a kitchen and planning meals for someone wanting to go vegan. And the Get Healthy cookbook has 125 recipes to help you enjoy eating a plant-based, whole food diet. I've also found a few good blogs offering recipes and tips. I haven't totally eliminated animal protein yet, but it's been surprisingly easy to drastically reduce it. I've got a grocery list and a few recipes I'm anxious to try, so this weekend I'll take another baby step on the road to eating vegan.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

forks over knives

In early September I wrote a rambling post that mentioned a "healthy heart" class and reading labels to see what's in the food I'm eating. On a guys camping weekend at the end of the month, we discussed eating habits and trying to make healthy choices. One of my friends from St Louis mentioned a documentary called "Forks Over Knives". Last weekend I found it on Netflix and found it very interesting. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in a healthy lifestyle. Basically, it makes the case for a whole-food, plant based diet. As for giving up meat, dairy, and all animal-based protein, I'm not ready to go cold-turkey.  ;)

But I am seriously considering this dietary lifestyle. I know several people who are vegetarians or vegans. Some made the choice for moral reasons, others for improved athletic performance. Forks Over Knives makes the case that a plant-based diet can help prevent , and even reverse some devastating physical ailments that plague our nation. Cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension can all be linked to diet, not to mention the obesity we hear so much about, even in our children.

I'm on a quest to find out more about a plant-based diet, what to eat, how to prepare it, etc. Until I have all the information I need to take the plunge, I plan on trying to make good choices. I hope that I can share my journey as I look to combine a healthy diet with cycling and workouts that can keep me riding well into my rapidly approaching old age. I found a quote from Michael Pollan that sums up what I think I need to do:
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants".

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the best?

The September issue of Bicycling magazine featured an article called "The Best Bike Ride In Every State". Personally, it would be hard for me to pick the best ride in Colorado, from all the great rides I've done. Perhaps Durango to Ouray, 70 miles on the "Million Dollar Highway" with 7000+ feet of climbing?
 But the folks at Bicycling chose Mt Evans. From their website:

Mt. Evans
Olympic medalist and seven-time Tour de France rider Ron Kiefel has ridden Mt. Evans—the highest paved road in the United States, at 14,265 feet—a few times in his life. Make that 20. “Evans isn’t the steepest or craziest mountain I’ve ever done,” he says of the 6,575-foot, 18.4-mile ascent. “But it’s a complete classic. There aren’t many places you can climb for four hours straight.” From Idaho Springs, the highway passes shallow Echo Lake and breaks out of treeline into a rocky, lunar landscape. Up there, a 6 percent grade feels like 10. And the views? South, there’s 14,110-foot Pikes Peak. North, there’s 14,259-foot Longs Peak. West, there’s the endless Rockies. And on a clear day, looking east past Denver, you can actually see the curvature of the earth. “Not many people can say they’ve been up here with a bike,” Kiefel says. “I look at it as a journey and an adventure.”

I can say that I've been up there with a bike.  And it was awesome!
p.s. RIP Andy Williams. I'm dating myself when I say that I remember his variety show on Saturday nights.

Monday, September 24, 2012

pedal the plains

This past weekend was the inaugural running of Pedal The Plains. Sponsored by The Denver Post, which also sponsors Ride The Rockies, it was a 3-day Colorado tour that didn't go over any mountain passes. In an area of Colorado between US-36 and I-70, this year's route visited Yuma, Wray and Burlington. It's not the Rockies, but it's not flat. Over three days riders had a net elevation gain of 2378 feet, or 2638 if they did the century option on the last day.
Why a three day tour? Some might say that three days on the plains of western Colorado is plenty to see all that you can see there. But, as one who believes that any place is a good place for a ride, and having ridden around eastern South Dakota and across Kansas, I think you could spend a week challenged by the winds and rolling hills of the plains, and enjoying all the small towns that I'm sure would welcome you. And having Theo along would ensure the comfort and enjoyment of at least part of the riders.
However, from accounts of some of the riders, I think that three days of challenging, but reasonable riding gave many the chance to ride in a multi-day event for the first time. I'm sure there were many strong, seasoned riders who will ride anywhere, anytime. But, for some this was their first taste of the camaraderie and enjoyment of a bike tour. I hope that some of these new "tourists" will try their hand at a climbing tour like CRMBT next year. But, for now, I'm glad they had fun on Pedal The Plains. Kind of makes me wish that I had been there.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

riding the rockies on a bicycle tour in colorado

In my humble opinion, CRMBT is the best bike tour in Colorado. Unfortunately, not everyone who would enjoy such a tour has heard of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. Even folks in Colorado seem unaware that there's another tour besides Ride The Rockies and Bicycle Tour Of Colorado. Those two that almost every cyclist has heard of, are held each June. CRMBT is held in August, which gives even riders from cooler climes a longer training season. I love that it's in August and I love that it's not too big. With a cap of 500 riders it's scheduled for it's seventh running in 2013. They've announced a great route for next year and are offering an early bird discount through the end of September. So get over there and sign up for a great tour. And tell all your friends to check it out too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

hell of the west

Grand Junction is too far away for me to attend a one day ride. But, if I were anywhere near there the first weekend in October, I think I would do this ride. The Icon Lasik Tour Of The Moon, Hell Of the West Cycling Classic. It's a mouthful, but this ride through the Colorado National Monument looks like a lot of fun. The Tour Of The Moon was made famous in the 1980's Coors Classic bicycle race. It was also featured in the Kevin Costner movie, American Flyers, as part of the Hell Of The West bike race. Today it was announced that Tom Danielson will join the 2,000 registrants in this inaugural ride.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

shut up already!

I've been going on for a while about CRMBT, and before that, Tour de Kota. I looked back at my posts for the last 3 months+, and all I've written about, with the exception of my family reunion in July, is getting ready for, riding, and remembering bike tours I've done. Sometimes I think about other bike tours too.

For me to be able to ride a multi-day tour, especially through the Rocky Mountains, I need to train. I can't really simulate the climbing. I can find some stretches of similar gradient, but nothing that goes on for 4, 8, or 15 miles! I can't simulate the altitude either, but with proper hydration and a little extra time for acclimation pre-tour, I haven't had any problems there. What I can do to train is ride. Ride in the wind, ride a lot of miles, get my legs used to pedaling for hours.

In years past I didn't do a very good job of maintaining the fitness I achieved from preparing for and riding through the summer months. I would slow down in the fall, and as the weather worsened, my riding gound to a halt. To exacerbate the situation I would make poor choices with my diet and end up gaining too much weight. Every spring I would find myself trying to watch what I eat and ride as much as I could with the immediate goal of shedding some pounds to make the riding easier.

As summer wore on I would try to increase the miles, and decrease the weight so I would be better prepared to climbs mountains, and have less of me to drag up them. I would set some kind of goal for the weight I wanted to achieve by August, and usually come close to meeting it. Perhaps my goal was too modest.

A couple years ago my doctor "threatened" to put me on medication for my cholesterol if I didn't get it under control. I attended a "healthy heart" class and had a dietician help me know what to look for on labels, make me aware of good fats and bad fats, and give me a selection of things to eat that would help, or not hurt, in my attempt to lower my cholesterol. Not "dieting", but just making better choices for meals and snacks helped me lose quite a bit of extra weight, and maybe more importantly, make it through last winter without gaining weight.

Between controlling my weight and being able to keep riding through the mild winter, I think this summer was the best "riding shape" I've ever been in. I'm still short, stocky, and slow, but for me, I did pretty good. So now I'm trying to keep myself motivated to keep the riding going through the winter. The diet choices have become second nature. I allow myself treats, but stay away from highly processed junk most of the time. But the weather has to cooperate to keep me on the road all year. I hate the trainer and can only handle about an hour, even with a dvd to watch.

With the 2013 CRMBT route already announced, and my application in to take advantage of the early-bird discount, I'm already day-dreaming of riding in the mountains again. In the meantime, I'm enjoying cool mornings and warm afternoons to get in three or four rides a week. Yesterday Roger and I rode just a little more than 50 miles, and still made it home in time to watch college football all afternoon. 

I'll take my camera with me and see if I can find anything interesting to share of my rides through eastern Kansas over the next few months. I encourage everyone to get outside and do something. If you like to ride, get on you bike and pedal. And, if you love to ride, I would encourage you to try a week-long tour. As someone I met in Colorado put it: eat, sleep, ride, repeat. It's a wonderful way to spend a week, and see a part of the place where you live, or another place. And if you can make it to the mountains, come ride CRMBT!

Friday, August 31, 2012

crmbt 2013

I just finished recapping how much fun I had riding the CRMBT in early August, and they've already announced their route for 2013.  I'm all in!
The loop starts in Ft Collins, and overnights in Estes Park, Golden, Fraser, with a rest day in Steamboat Springs. After a last night in Walden the tour makes its way back to the starting point. Some of the highlights include Peak-to-Peak Highway, Cameron Pass, and Rabbit Ears Pass, twice. And as an homage to the Triple Bypass, CRMBT's own version: Lookout Mountain, Juniper Pass/Squaw Pass, and Berthoud Pass. This 85 mile day will include more than 10,000 feet of climbing. And, if that's not enough for you, on the way down from Squaw Pass you'll ride past Echo Lake, where 14 miles and 3500 feet will get you to the top of Mt Evans!
 Peak-to-Peak Highway
View from Squaw Pass
 Echo Lake, Mt Evans Road
 Looking down on Echo Lake, Mt Evans Summit
 Berthoud Pass looking north towards Winter Park

Next year will be my sixth ride with this tour. I can tell you it's a good size, run by great people and wonderful volunteers, with all kinds of options to suit all kinds of cyclists. It will challenge you, but with training, you can do it! CRMBT is offering a great discount for signing up now, so if you've ever thought about a Colorado tour, or if you haven't done one for a while, this would be a great one.

Who wants to go for a ride?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

crmbt-mancos to pagosa springs

Saturday 8-11-12

The consensus around camp Friday night had been to shoot for an early start. Boxing bikes, getting to airports, starting towards home, these things all seemed like they would be simpler, easier, if we could get the 94 mile ride over with as early as possible. Some riders stayed on US160 all the way from Durango to Pagosa Springs. I'm not sure how many miles it cut off the ride, but I'm sure we dealt with lighter traffic and better scenery by following the route towards Vallecito and down to Bayfield.
I rode most of the way with Paul and Steve. We left Mancos with Matt a little before 6:00am. It was cool for the first couple hours, which felt good, but there were some short climbs that proved a struggle first thing in the morning after five good days of riding. Matt eventually pulled away, and Paul went with him. Steve and I plodded along until we found our legs. We were both feeling stronger as we neared the summit of Hesperus Pass. Four miles later we found Paul at the first aid station, where we learned that there were only a handful of riders on the road ahead of us, but Kevin reported that by 7:30 all riders were now on the road.

After the aid station we had a great descent into Durango, losing about 1600 feet over 9 miles. With all of the great climbs/descents we'd had over the week, I hit my high speed coming down Hesperus Hill. Taylor Phinney wouldn't be impressed with my 52 mph, but I had fun! I had started the morning with a jacket, taken it off as we climbed, and put it on again after the aid station. I was really glad when I was flying through the shadows in the canyon. The only tricky part of the route was how we were getting through Durango. Dale was right there at the stop light where we needed to make a left turn with directions to the next turn that would get us out of town.
 We enjoyed a cool morning most of the way to the second aid station in Bayfield. It was starting to heat up as we made the turn back onto US160. We had about 29 miles and one more aid station between us and Pagosa Springs. Yellow Jacket Pass is only 7737 feet of elevation, but by late morning every hill was becoming one more thing to slow progress. Eventually we spotted Chimney Rock off to the south. It's visible for a long way on this route, but it meant we were getting closer. 
Eventually we reached the edge of Pagosa Springs and had a nice downhill run into town. We rolled into the high school lot at 1:30 pm. Seven and a half hours total, including several stops for pictures, aid stations, and just to catch my breath, none of them for very long. The volunteers at the finish line rang a cowbell (I need more cowbell!). I knelt to kiss the ground, and hurried to shower and get everything in the car to get on the road. I was a little disappointed when I realized that I would lose an hour right off the bat heading back to Kansas, but c'est la vie. Another good day, another great tour in Colorado. Another fantastic week with CRMBT.