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Today I am roaming the halls of the fun Interbike show. I'm hoping to get some good photos and news for you.


On the heels of this Interbike trip, I leave for Rhodes, Greece on Monday. I am traveling to Greece for the ITU World Cup race. When you take a look at the race website, it is fun to see the Greek language displayed on the main page.



The Greeks stepped up to host this race when another country could not secure the funding to make a World Cup race happen. I suspect this is why some of the informational sections of the website are still under construction.



For this particular event, I have been invited to be the coach that supports the ITU Sports Development Team. This is the second time this year I will travel in this role. The last time I supported the Development Team was at the Vancouver World Cup race.



I feel quite privileged and honored to be involved in the ITU Sport Development project. The Sport Development Mission is:



"To create, support, and enhance, sustainable athlete and coach development programs worldwide" - Libby Burrell, Director - ITU BG Sport Development. ITU Congress - Lausanne ‘06



To be involved in a project aimed at developing the sport of triathlon on a world-wide platform is simply amazing. This project was made possible through funding by the BG Group. Their desire to contribute to our healthy and growing sport has had a significant impact around the globe. An overview of the ITU BG Sport Development Program can be found here.



At the Rhodes event, I have the opportunity to work with ten athletes representing ten different countries. At this event, the athletes will receive the same staff support that athletes from highly developed nations are privileged to receive. That support includes a team manager, a bike mechanic, an athletic trainer/massage therapist and a coach.



I'll take plenty of photos and keep you updated.



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Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 24, 2007


Held in the city of glitz, Las Vegas, the trade show Interbike is every cyclist's dream candy store. It is a huge industry show, with the Interbike website boasting 22,000 attendees last year.



I head out early Thursday morning and plan to return back home Friday night. I've been to the show a couple of times now and I believe I'm totally undertrained for the event. There is just too much to see and I'm never completely prepared for sensory overload.



You can have a peek at some of the new products being unveiled at the show by taking a look here.



I'll take my camera and let you know what I find.



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After the ride last Sunday I rolled my bike into the garage and parked it. I didn't have the energy or time to clean it on Sunday afternoon. Anyone that knows me, knows I'm a member of the Clean Bike Club. I like my bikes clean. It doesn't always happen, but I do like a clean bike.



Yesterday was my first ride since the epic adventure. Before I could ride, however, I had to clean my bike. I was not looking forward to the work because each time I went into the garage I took a closer look at the ugly black/gray stuff that coated my brakes and I was sure it was on my frame in greater quantities than met by the naked eye.



This black/gray stuff was the fine combination of oil from the new patches and pavement on Trail Ridge Road and the normal road gunk that all the cars and trucks drop. Yech.



My brother works in the paving industry and told me that fresh pavement does seep oil for some period of time. More oil than an old road for sure. He said he wasn't surprised I lost braking ability during the rain storm on Sunday, particularly given we were in the first few minutes of the start of the storm. He said my brakes were likely bathed in oil.



This explains why I've never lost my brakes before. I've been in plenty of storms, but I don't think I've been in a downhill situation on pavement that is one day to two months young in a driving rain storm.



That young oil, and all of the junk it attracted, was caked on my brakes. I'm not kidding. I should have taken a photo. It was gross.



The drive train got a good dose of White Lightening Clean Streak. This stuff is amazing. It easily cleans the grime off of the drive train. I've used it all summer and even with the nasty paving oil, it did a fantastic job.



For the frame and all the rest, it took warm dish soap, a set of bike cleaning brushes and elbow grease. It took me 1:30 to get that bike cleaned up back to my standards.



Then, and only then, could I take it out for a ride.






Not me!



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I am fortunate to live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and to have riding pals that are willing to do fun rides with me. Our fun rides are often challenging, which is part of what makes them fun.


I reserve the title "Epic Ride" to rides that are, by definition, "very imposing or impressive; surpassing the ordinary (especially in size or scale)".


Our annual ride from my doorstep to the top of Trail Ridge Road each year is certainly challenging, but I wouldn't normally consider it an epic ride. (Sans the first year I did it. That year, given my experience and conditioning, it was epic for me.) On the challenging side, the round trip is 106 miles, there is roughly 9,000 feet of climbing and the elevation goes from about 5,000 to 12,168 feet. Yes, challenging, but doable with appropriate conditioning.


I have included an attachment of a partial profile of the climb. The altitude isn't accurate and I'm missing about 45 minutes worth of data, but more on that later. You can still get the general idea of the route.


At 7:00 am nine of us left my house, we would pick up one more person on the road, with high hopes of a fantastic day. Everyone in the group that planned to go to the top is well-conditioned and a ride of this type should have posed no problem. The weather at home was predicted to be 85 to 90 degrees F. with a chance of late afternoon rain. Estes Park was slightly cooler, with the same late afternoon rain predicted. Perfect, we'd be off the mountain well before late afternoon showers and thunderstorms.



In the shot below you can see all but one person in the group. The photo was taken by my husband Del, driving sag for us, at the top of the switchback climb above Glen Haven, with Estes Park and Longs Peak as the backdrop. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire world.





Longs Peak is one of Colorado's 14'ers and we would be heading to a spot directly behind Longs. Notice the clear sky surrounding Longs.



We stopped to refuel in Estes Park and headed west toward Rocky Mountain National Park to ride a portion of Trail Ridge Road, to Rock Cut. Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved highway in the United States and is typically closed between mid-October to late May each year due to heavy winter conditions. Road crews work hard to have the road open for Memorial Day visitors.



Dave McClure (one of the riders with us) snapped the photo below of Peter Stackhouse on opening weekend this year. Peter is riding next to one of the giant snow drifts within a couple of miles of Rock Cut.





Two people turned around in Estes Park and the rest of us headed up, up, up.



The photo below shows eight happy riders. It was taken at one of the car turnout locations. The road, as you will see later has a very limited shoulder and cars can only stop in specified locations because there is no room on the road. Notice behind us that you can see treeline, at around 11,500 feet.





The next photo was taken about two hours after the one that was taken on top of the Glen Haven switchbacks, looking toward the direction that is our goal destination. Notice the beautiful blue skies are gone.





The next photo is looking behind us. You can see a good portion of the road and notice in some places there are decent drop-offs with no guard rails. For Colorado riders this is typically not a problem, but out-of-state folks can be freaked-out by the drops - even when riding in a car. Totally understandable.





The area in the next photo is an exposed area of the mountain that can often host nasty, gusting cross-winds. The snow patch you see in the background is the remains of last winter.





We made it to our turn-around point, the parking area at Rock Cut in about 4:38 ride time. We normally spend some time at the top taking photos and enjoying the scenery, but when we looked west, we could see a wall of weather moving our way.



Everyone put on extra clothes and high-tailed it down the mountain. We weren't even out of the parking lot on top, when it began snowing. The snow was mixed with rain. Now summer rain isn't usually a problem-unless you're above treeline and trying to get off the mountain.



We had to make a short stop for single-lane summer road construction near the top. You can see our weather-related issues just beginning.





All of us expected some rain and/or snow on top, that is just the way it is with riding Trail Ridge Road this time of the year. I put on a helmet cover, ear warmers, water resistant glove shells and Pearl Izumi's version of Gore Tex at the top. I kept my knee warmers and decided not to put on rain pants or booties. I thought, "We should be in Estes Park and off the mountain in no time. The temperature isn't too bad and I'll be fine on the descent."



Once through the construction zone, we could all descend at our own pace. We weren't out of the construction zone five minutes when the serious weather hit us. First, it was heavy rain mixed with hail. If you have ridden downhill in hail mixed with rain, you'll know that it hurts your face. Thankfully there wasn't enough hail in the mix to make the road slick.



This descent can normally be done between 40 and 45 miles per hour on dry roads and with no traffic. Today, for this top section, we were limited to 35 to 40 miles per hour due to the rain.



Then came the wind. Remember the photo of me riding solo earlier in the column? The place I mentioned gusty winds? Yep, gusty side winds and rain now, pulling speeds even lower. Although I couldn't see the drop-off, or rather I wouldn't look for it, I knew I needed to stay well away from the edge of the road.



Recall the narrow roads and nowhere for cars (like a handy sag vehicle) to stop? There are few places to stop, only the designated pullout areas.



By this time, one person had lost braking ability. Luckily, he was near a pullout area and could hop in the Suburban with Del.



The rest of us continued down the mountain and were within a mile of Del when the sheets of rain hit. Things are getting worse. I am now shaking due to being cold. (I can't pedal at all, so I cannot maintain any body heat.) If I try to descend faster to just get off the mountain, I can't see due to the volume of rain. At this point, I figure out I have nearly zero brakes.



I was going down a straightaway at about 30 mph when I could see car brake lights ahead of me. I started to apply my brakes to slow down and nothing. I gripped as hard as I could and there was the ever-so-slight sensation of slowing. I went to the tip of my brake levers and gripped with every ounce of force I could muster and I could feel more, slight slowing. Yes, only slowing.



I could see tail lights getting closer.



My some miracle, the cars began moving in time for me to not run into the back end of one. I could see one of my riding friends ahead of me dragging his foot like Fred Flintstone, trying to slow down.



I managed to grip my brakes long enough that I could actually come to a "rolling stop." When I saw three of our group members huddled under a tree, I decided to join them.



We stood there waiting for Del while the lightening moved in. We had a small discussion between near-convulsive shaking, "Never would have guessed this kind of weather. Not this morning. Not on top."



And so it goes with mountain weather. This is what can happen-what you don't expect.



The four of us saw Del and the first pick-up rider go by and we waved. I wasn't sure Del saw us, so I jumped on my bike to catch them at the Hidden Valley parking lot. I was pretty certain they would stop or turn around there.



Yep, they did turn around there and they headed back to the huddle-tree.



I am now down the mountain a mile or two and decided to wait under a new tree. And I wait.



After about ten minutes, some jumping jacks and a small break in the sheets of rain, I decided to try to make it to Estes on my bike to find the other two riders that were ahead of me. I thought this was a better choice than shivering next to the tree.



I have never been so glad to do a few climbs on the mostly descent route. The small climbs allowed me to build some much needed body heat.



I found my two buddies huddled in a Starbucks. We ordered coffee and sat there shivering.



I called Del and some of the riders decided to descend on their bikes to Estes and one fellow had enough. He was too cold and he was having bike problems.



We all regrouped at a parking lot. In the car, I had dry gloves and leg warmers. I knew if I put on these, along with booties and rain pants I could make it back home. I've done it before.



Four riders decided they were in good shape and would ride down too. Three riders didn't have enough clothes and couldn't stop shivering. They, wisely, decided to call it a day and ride back to Loveland in the Suburban with the heater on high. The rider with the mechanical issue figured out he snapped a cable, adding to the list of reasons to be in the car.



As we headed down the canyon toward home, it was decided anytime the ride is 106 miles and half of it involves unstoppable shivering, driving sheets of rain, hail, wind and limited to no braking ability-it classifies as an epic ride.



I'm happy to say that everyone made it home safely. My speed sensor was so caked with road grime that it quit working in Estes Park on the way down. I started the time clock when I realized it wasn't working, but I lost some data because the sensor was not working. The altimeter works off of barometric pressure and I think the storm caused problems with accuracy. Elevations earlier cited in the column come from map data.



I'm sure we'd all do it a little different, given another chance. That chance will come in 2008.



When I got home, my mom called to see if I made it off the mountain. Then, she told me their mountain cabin was broken into by a mother bear and her two cubs. But, that's another story...



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The men's race came together as a big pack much sooner than the women's race. Seems the hills weren't tough enough to break up the group.



The race came down to a running event, with Jarrod having a great run. Big congrats to Jarrod!!



There must have been technical problems today with the men's race as I had several incidents of buffering. The last time I had this problem, it was caused by an overload of people watching the race online. I'll keep you posted on this.



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Laura Bennett had a fantastic race to finish as the first USA athlete across the finish line at the Beijing World Cup race, getting the third place spot for a podium position as well. Big congrats to her! She is the first member of the 2008 USA Triathlon Team.

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Antitallow Club

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 13, 2007

The Antitallow Club disbanded in May this year. With summer racing over, there has been some talk that the club needs to get started again.


The club started last year about this time. Three of us noticed that our summer weight had already begun the dreaded winter creep and we weren't out of September. Things weren't horrible, yet, but none of us wanted the winter five- to ten-pound weight gain that was typical for everyone.



How do we prevent that weight gain? The Antitallow Club.



The rules of the club are pretty simple. First, select a body weight that you would like to keep throughout the winter. (Hint, do not make it the weight you raced at when you were in prime condition and svelte.) This becomes your goal weight.



Then, every Friday there is a weigh-in. The honor system is strictly enforced. You report your weight to the other members of the group.



If your weight is above your goal weight, but less than last week's weight, you are good. No negative consequences.



If your weight is above your goal weight, and you maintained last week's weight, there are no negative consequences.



If your weight is above your goal weight, and you gained weight compared to last week, you owe big-time. Contribute $1 into the Tallow Kitty.



If you are at or below your goal weight, there are no contributions to the kitty. This is true even if you are below your goal weight and you gain. As long as you are at or less than your goal weight, there are no negative consequences. The positive consequences include maintaining a reasonable winter weight, no spring "Oh my God my summer clothes shrunk" and overall feeling better about your winter maintenance program.



In September last year we all agreed that any cash collected in the kitty would be put guessed it...lunch or breakfast as a group.



I think the club helped all of us. Each of us had different months that are the toughest. One fellow starts his ascent around Thanksgiving. The other fellow starts in December when office treats are abundant. For me, it is February and March.



Interestingly, we all contributed about the same amount to the kitty. It was in the $10 to $12 range if I remember correctly. We never did go out for our celebration meal and we ended up calling the funding a wash.



At our most desperate times, there were definitely coping strategies. Some helpful, others, well, not so much:



  • Aw, it's only a buck.

  • If I'm going to be over this week, I'm making it big so I have room to come down next week. (i.e. It's better to gain three pounds than only a half pound.)

  • Eat anything you want on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday; but you better back things down on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Definitely no salty foods on Thursday night.


On the positive side, the club kept us all accountable to someone other than our lenient selves.


  • I had a "bad" day yesterday (or week this week), but I'll be better tomorrow / next week / after this party / after this excuse. We can all tell ourselves this day after day and week after week. But, when others are succeeding due to portion control and healthy food selections, those self-justifications crumble.

  • I deserve this pumpkin scone because I had a good workout. (What I didn't need was three of them this week.)

  • Most of the time the group was supportive of each other. I can't speak for the others, but I will admit there were times that I wished everyone was packing lard on their arses and not just me. Those self-pity feelings did pass though and I was soon back on the wagon of wanting everyone to do well.


We were able to talk about the club and our eating habits that got us into trouble. If nothing else, it was an awareness of our pitfall moments.


Will we start the club up again this year?












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Who will be the first two triathletes to make the 2008 USA Triathlon Olympic Team?


The first female will come from this group, racing Saturday September 15th, with their current 2008 Beijing Olympic Qualifying Ranking (ranking began in June of 2006) and their 2007 World Cup Ranking in parenthesis - this is only 2007 World Cup Races:



Laura Bennett - 9th (10th)



Sarah Haskins - 10th (13th)



Julie Swail - 37th (37th)



Sara McLarty - 47th (31st)



Sara Groff - 53rd (29th)



Becky Lavelle - 54th (53rd)



The first male will come from this group, racing Sunday September 16th, with their current 2008 Beijing Olympic Qualifying Ranking (ranking began in June of 2006) and their 2007 World Cup Ranking in parenthesis - this is only 2007 World Cup Races:



Andy Potts - 6th (23rd)



Jarrod Shoemaker - 20th (35th)



Hunter Kemper - 27th (89th)



Brian Fleishmann - 47th (49th)



Matt Reed - 49th (21st)



Doug Friman - 53rd (62nd)



The first USA female and male to cross the finish line at the 2008 Beijing World Cup race will be the first two athletes to make the 2008 USA Olympic Team.



The USA entries, and all other country entrants, can be found on the entry list for the event. This event is and Olympic qualifying race for several countries and this is the final dress rehearsal before the 2008 Games for event organizers.



Can you pick the first two USA finishers?



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Winter Warning

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 9, 2007


I live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of about 5000 feet. Today was a sharp reminder that fall is not far away, winter conditions will soon close some mountain roads and summer is slipping through my fingers.



I love summer. I really hate to see it go.



I do like the change of seasons; but, I let go of summer and head into fall kicking and crying. It usually takes that sharp slap in the face to make me let go.



Really, fall is beautiful in Colorado. Fall is marked with cool nights and warm days in the 70s. The aspen change in the mountains, sprinkling gold among the evergreens.



The deciduous trees aren't changing colors in big numbers yet, but they soon will. Shorter days and cooler temperatures coax the trees into new clothing.



One week ago the high temperature on my group ride was 90 degrees F. I was happily in a sleeveless jersey, worrying about sunscreen. This morning I was scrambling to find my cold weather gear. The "real feel" temperature (considering humidity, temperature and wind) was 40 degrees. Thankfully, the wind was minimal. Most of the cool feel was due to a cold front and humidity.



The group ride went west into low clouds. Climbing in the cool air was great. Apparently bed vines had latched onto most people because the roads were unusually quiet.



We rode Rist Canyon west. It is a tough climb and one of the former racers on the ride said it would be considered a Category I climb in the Tour de France due to the length and elevation gain. Sounds reasonable to me. It's a tough climb by anyone's rating system.



After the top of the climb, marked by a set of mailboxes, the descent began. Not as much fun going down.



I normally love this descent, but the low clouds made the visibility no more than about 30 yards. The clouds were so heavy with moisture that rivulets formed on my glasses, which I eventually had to remove so I could see.



Wearing a jacket, knee warmers, helmet cover, toe covers and full fingers gloves, I was still cold. Really cold. My fingers were numb most of the descent. When I got home about four hours after leaving, the thermometer on my patio read a balmy 48 degrees. I don't know what the real feel temperature was, but cold to me.



In just a few months I'll be wishing the temperature would be as warm as 48.



I suspect some of the mountain peaks far west of me received snow out of this cold front. The front will hang around one more day and on Wednesday the high temperature will be 80 degrees. Nice. 



Today, I was officially slapped in the face. I will be preparing mentally and with clothing changes to welcome fall and soon winter in Colorado.



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My first triathlon was in 1986 and it was sprint distance event. When I entered that race, I had no clue how the sport of triathlon would influence my life.


As I continued with my triathlon and multisport adventures, I came to realize I was part of a world-wide family of athletes that love the sport too. I can recall my first experience with a world championship event and how proud I felt to race on a team that represented the United States of America.


When I watched the great ITU video on the ITU main page that recapped the weekend of racing in Hamburg, I see athletes from every country. It could be my imagination, but I believe I see many, many athletes proud to race for their countries and proud to be in the sport.



I think everyone should try to participate in, or attend as a spectator, a World Championship for the sport(s) they love at least once in their life. It's tough to describe the experience; you just have to do it.



I feel the same way about the Olympics. The level of athlete that competes at the Olympic Games is the best of the best. It is worth traveling to see some part of the games at least once.



I will admit that I have had a long-time addiction to the Olympic Games, summer and winter. I've watched the Games for as long as I can remember.



My first addiction to the Olympics was through winter sports, beginning with skiing. Colorado, as you might imagine, produces several winter Olympic athletes each four years.



I can recall the Olympics being in the media spotlight when I was in grade school. Even at a young age, for me there was something about the spirit of the Olympic Games that was attractive. It was intriguing, yes, romantic.



The goal of the Olympic movement, as documented in the Olympic Charter by Pierre de Coubertin:



"The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."



Pierre de Coubertin was also responsible for the Olympic Creed. His inspiration for the creed was a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games. The Olympic Creed reads:


"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."



I like it.



Are there issues and problems with the Olympic Games, international and national organizations? Of course.



But issues and problems do not mean we should give up.



Influence sport where and when you can.
























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