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!