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Crosier Mountain

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 29, 2008

Several years ago, when my buddy Cathy and I were training for a trail running event, we would run on a trail system at Crosier Mountain. We would access the trail from one of the three trail heads off of Larimer County's Devil's Gulch Road. A couple of weeks ago when a fellow in the COSA conference said he had done a mountain bike ride on Crosier Mountain, accessing the trail from Estes, I was curious about the Estes trail entry.


On Saturday, three of us decided to explore Croiser Mountain to see if we could find the Estes Park entrance. As I'm writing this blog post, I realize I must get better at taking more photos. Experimenting with a new camera aside, I have no photos of the Glen Haven access point, which is directly behind the stables. I have no photos of the single-track sections of trail.


As my mountain bike skills go, I consider this an advanced trail. There are several steep and rocky sections, with generous portions of roots throughout many sections of the trail. I was off the bike a lot on the way out, though I could descend more of the trail than I could ascend. Dennis Anderson and Todd Singiser rode a lot more of the trail than I did and it is fun to see stronger riders ride, or attempt to ride, the tough sections.



We did ride to the Estes Park access point. There is a system of gates via the H-G Ranch. Though it is a private ranch, riders and hikers can access the trail through the ranch, located just off of Dry Gulch Road. The photo below is overlooking the ranch. Estes Park sits in the valley behind the two small hills in the center of the photo below.





I may have to go up to the ranch again to get a photo sequence or video of the pulley system that opens the main gate to the ranch. You can pull on a handle to open and close the gate without leaving your car and it's all mechanical.



Even though it is a tough trail, it's fun go somewhere new. For future rides, I vow to take more photos.





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National Public Lands Day

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 25, 2008

This Saturday, September 27th, is National Public Lands Day. The event began in 1994 with the basic concept of taking a day to care for shared land. It is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort, focused on improving the public lands that North Americans enjoy.


In addition to opportunities for you to volunteer to help improve public lands, the National Park system is waiving all entry fees to honor the country's newest citizens and encourage people to explore public lands.


More information about National Public Lands Day can be found here.



Additional information about the National Park system can be found here.



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The news of this new format began shortly after the triathlon races at the Olympic Games. Emma Snowsill was asked her opinion of the new format and she was supportive.


Until now, the title of "World Champion" went to the athlete that won a single race given the event title of "World Championship". Beginning in 2009, a world champion will be crowned by performing most consistently over seven events. There will be six World Championship events and a Grand Final. How the scoring works has not yet been released.



The ITU is partnering with the sports division of French media giant Lagardere to deliver the new series to televisions around the globe. This change could be the very thing that draft-legal racing has needed to bring exposure, education and excitement to the sport. More information can be found here.



Currently, draft-legal triathlon is only available to athletes in the development pipeline or on track to World Cup and Olympic racing. There are no draft-legal age group races that I'm aware of, in any country.






The early arguments were that age group triathletes do not have the bike handling skills necessary for safe racing.



The age group athletes that participate in USA and UCI cycling events seem to manage reasonably well.



If a draft-legal triathlon race was available, would you like to participate? Voice your opinion on the community board here.



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Provocative messages

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 22, 2008

I mentioned to that last week that I attended an open space conference. The keynote session on Tuesday was titled, "Making a Difference on Purpose: The Endgame of


Communication" delivered by professor Sam Ham. No, Sam is not a Dr. Seuss character; but he did mention that his mother had a sense of humor. It must be genetic, as his email is



The first slide of the presentation noted, "Making a difference by making meaning." I think this is the challenge of anyone trying to get other people to care and change behaviors. While the presentation was for those trying to make a difference for environmental issues, I'll apply the concepts to health and fitness.



The communication strategies he covered included:


  • Didactic paradigm

  • Infotainment paradigm

  • Meaning making paradigm





Didactic paradigm



The basics of this concept is that if people know what we know (all of "us" already hooked on health, fitness, exercise and simply living an active lifestyle) they will care as we care.



It doesn't take much looking around to see that providing loads of facts about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating in newspapers, magazines, online and on television does not have an impact on the majority of people. Knowledge does not equal caring and tougher yet, does not equal behavior changes or action.



That's not to mean that science and statistics are useless and we should quit publishing data and facts. Science is one of the tools to help us drive home important points.



Infotainment paradigm



This paradigm uses the EROT model that says if a presentation is enjoyable, relevant, organized and thematic it will get the desired behavior results. Dr. Ham argues that holding an audience's attention and creating an entertaining experience does not guarantee you will accomplish anything else.



Meaning making paradigm



This is really the challenge of all communicators looking for any audience to change behaviors. This takes the EROT model another step. Dr. Ham said, "You make a difference when your audiences make their own meaning."



I don't believe that NBC's goal ever was, or is, to motivate people to enter a triathlon; but a good number of people, including me, have been motivated to enter a triathlon because of that television show. What is it about the show that sparks viewer action?



I think different items within the program spark different viewers to action. Below are a few of the items from past programs that I think provoke viewers to think, "Hey I want to do a triathlon." Or they may think, "If that person can do a triathlon, I can too."


  • Stories of athletes that have overcome significant health odds such as battling a disease or losing a limb.

  • Those that take on triathlon to lose weight.

  • People that do the event to raise awareness for other issues.

  • Athletes that train and race the event in honor of another person.

  • The sheer difficulty of the event.

  • Wonder about one's own body and if it is capable of a triathlon. Intrigue.


I'm sure there are many more connections to the audience that are not listed here.



Many of you that read this blog are already very fit and healthy. If you want some of your friends and family members to be active and move to better nutritional habits, the challenge is find that communication tool or tools that spur people to think about how your message relates to them personally.



In short, your challenge is to craft a provocative message that stimulates your audience to make their own personal meaning, which can then be transferred to action. 



"The chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation."  - Freeman Tilden, Interpreting Our Heritage



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Open space in your city?

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 17, 2008

About three years ago I was on a trail run with my dogs. I stood on a ridge at Devil's Backbone Open Space and I took stock of how lucky I was to be standing there on such a great piece of land. Then I thought about the other great views, hikes, walks, runs and mountain bike adventures I had enjoyed on various other open space areas in the city and county where I live. I've also enjoyed open space areas in several other Colorado counties.


It was on that take-stock run that I said to myself, "If you want to be sure open space, beautiful vistas and trails remain a part of where you live - get involved."


The process began by simply paying attention to meetings and news items involving open space issues for the city and county. The more I dug into it, the more I realized how much work had been put into open space issues. People had worked for years to acquire land and preserve the land for generations to come. Some spaces do not allow public access, while other spaces create a trail system so people can recreate while minimizing impact to the land.


I wanted to become part of the process to preserve land for generations to come.


Fast forward to late last year. I applied for and was appointed to the Open Lands Advisory Commission (OLAC) for the City of Loveland. I have been on OLAC for just under a year and I have barely scratched the surface of learning about open lands issues.



When I had the opportunity to attend a few sessions for the Colorado Open Space Alliance conference held in Estes Park this week, I took advantage of the opportunity. I'll write more about that in another blog.



Do you enjoy open space? Is there an open space program in your city? Can you get involved at some level to preserve open space? Here are some ideas:



  • Trail day maintenance volunteer (pick axes, giant rakes and earth moving)

  • Trail volunteer ranger or interpreter

  • Donate to the cause

  • Attend a meeting on open space issues

  • Volunteer for an open space project

  • Become involved in a citizen commission


Do you have a favorite open space photo? Share it by posting it along with a comment below.


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Last weekend, I told you I was going to go dirt bike riding with my old running pal Don Lorenzen. I did go...and what an adventure. I recall Don saying, "I've never had a beginner do that. And furthermore, I've never seen it happen like that before."


Before I get to the incident that spurred his comment, let me tell you about the day. Don and his close riding buddies are very into dirt bike riding. This sport is far more than riding a motorcycle on dirt roads.


Because I have limited experience on a motorcycle (last time I rode one I was 10) and limited experience on a vehicle like a motorcycle (rode a four-wheeler about 15 years ago), he started with basic maneuvers.


Before basic training could even begin, first I had to get all of the gear on. First, socks that go all the way up to your knees. Over the socks go knee and shin guards. Then, the fancy cycling pants followed by motocross boots. I used to downhill ski quite a bit and these boots feel like a strange combination of ski boots and tall horseback riding boots. The boots were a bit big for me, making it tough to feel the shifters (shifting done with your left foot - toe really) and the rear brake which is activated with your right foot. But, I'd manage.



After your lower body is all dressed up, the finishing touches are added to your upper body. First I wore an undershirt, covered with a fancy motorcycle shirt. Over motorcycle shirt is a plastic chest and shoulder protector. For arm protection, I wore my mountain bike arm guards. Finally, a helmet and sunglasses are put on before the last bit of gear - gloves.



That's two full paragraphs to describe putting on personal protective gear and I'm exhausted from just getting dressed. Of course, once you have all that stuff on and you're getting ready to approach the bike - you have to use the restroom. Dang.



Below is a photo of Todd Singiser, me and Don Lorenzen (Dennis Anderson is taking the photo):





Before starting the bike, Don patiently explains the clutch (left hand activated) and the shifting (one click down is 1st gear, one click up is neutral, two clicks up is 2nd, three clicks up is 3rd and that's all I need for today). The gas is activated by a grabbing the right handlebar and twisting it towards me (this action is described more fully later in the story) and the front brake is activated with the right hand, similar to mountain bike brakes. Not to be confused with the clutch activated with the left hand (also similar in position to a mountain bike brake), which does not brake; but can be used as a shutdown mechanism of sorts. As I mentioned before, the rear brake is activated with the right foot.



That is a lot of different body motions to coordinate with natural instinct.



Gale and Don the moto-zen master below:





My first activity was to start the bike and ride around the parking lot in 1st gear. That went well, so I graduated to second gear. There was braking practice, more shifting practice, circles both directions and figure eight patterns. Since I seemed to be catching on pretty fast, I graduated to riding up and down a sloped area between two parking lots. Some seated, some standing and more figure eights.



After a short break, Don asked if I wanted to go out on the dirt road and double-track. I told him if he thought I was ready, I was up for the trek.



The road had roots, rocks and ruts. This was no smooth parking lot. In the rating system for obstacles, I suspect it is a 1.5 out of 10, with 1 being the smooth parking lot. I thought I was doing pretty well, only killing the engine about a dozen times and getting hung up in a small ditch water crossing once. It was boggy and deep, but not very wide.



Then came the non-rhythmic, choppy, rut section. My natural instinct from mountain biking, when getting into a bumpy technical section (now rated a 2.0 out of 10), apparently, is to grab the handlebars and try to keep the bike upright. This action is perfectly acceptable, as long as you don't twist your wrist and apply lots of gas.



In seconds I was heading right for a small, dry bog area with about a one foot drop off. I tried to keep the bike (weighing some 250ish pounds) upright and didn't. I laid it down onto the dropoff and the grass.



Don came back and helped me get the bike back upright, pointed in the right direction. He also picked a nice line with minimal bumps for me to ride through before crossing a shallow creek and climbing a short and steep (rating 2.2) hill. He would ride the line first and show me the way. Good plan.



He rode easily through the ruts and crossed the creek. When I began through the ruts, they grabbed the front wheel. Instinctually, I grabbed the handlebars to steady the bike - and - you guessed it - the gas. A lot of gas.



I remember thinking two things:



"Wow, I'm going really fast and I can't take my hand off of the gas."



"I am going to run directly into that willow tree/bush."



The next thing I remember is standing on the ground, looking at the bike that was vertical to the ground and gently resting on the branches of the willow tree. The rear fender was touching the ground and some of the rear wheel; but mostly the tree was holding the bike.



While this is happening with me, Don recalls hearing the extreme gas sound, "Wwwweeeeeeeeeeee". When he turned to look, he saw a cloud of blue smoke. After turning around to find what happened, he looked down the hill to see me standing on the ground sans bike.



I had managed to accelerate the bike right out from underneath me and somehow I landed on my feet without a stunt double.



When Don realized I was not hurt, he started laughing. He laughed so much it brought tears to his eyes. When he was able to catch his breath he said, "I've never had a beginner do that. And furthermore, I've never seen it happen like that before."



I did ride through that darn creek and up that 2.2 hill. After a sandwich break we rode another 30 minutes or so.



After about four hours total of riding that day, it took me a week to recover. My legs were tired and my shoulders were stiff.



On the drive home, I kept repeating "This was not fun. This was not fun."



The last thing I need is a new sport...









PS...Big thanks to Nick Hansen for loaning me his motorcycle so I could run it up a tree...



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In a recent column, I included a direct excerpt from a book by Denis Waitley that told a story about a man that was such a negative thinker, that he killed himself with his negative thoughts.


Because I have yet to hear from the author of the book to comment about where he got the story and any evidence he has to verify that the story is a true tale rather than a tall tale; let's assume for now that the Snopes site is correct and the story is fake.



For a moment, let's look at the other end of the spectrum of human thought, human willpower. In the past two weeks, there were two stories of people that "miraculously" lived in spite of the odds and predictions that they should not have survived.



The first story is of a young woman that drove her car off the road, suffered significant injuries and managed to live five days. Part of her survival was sipping water gathered from her fingertips outside of her window. (Watch the two videos and read the story from this page.)



The second story is about an autistic young man and his father that were swept to sea and spent more than 15 hours in the ocean. The story and video can be found here. They both, against the odds, survived.



There are plenty of other stories too, about people surviving amazingly bad circumstances. Had they not lived to tell the tale, complete with rescuers to help and serve as witnesses to the miracle - we would not have predicted anyone could survive the ordeals.



Now, what about the people that don't survive bad circumstances? Is it as simple as "no one could survive that situation"? Or, is it that they lacked the will to live, the positive thoughts, that pulled other people through worse situations? We can never really know what they were thinking, unless they leave a note or other evidence of parting thoughts.



What do you think? Do some people end their lives prematurely with negative thoughts? When, perhaps, they might have survived with positive thinking? 



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For some athletes it is the end of the season, for others there is still some good racing left. For me, it is riding the tide of post-race fitness. The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, four weeks ago, was the last race of my season.


I had a very light week the week after the race and volunteered at the Leadville 100 Running Race. A tough weekend for the runners, with a good deal of rain and some snow; but nice for me as I slept in my car with the rain gently tapping on the roof.



The next couple of weeks involved doing "workouts" when I felt like it. I like to take a break from structure and I also look for new places to go or new things to do. For example, last weekend a group of us (Scott Ellis, Todd Singiser, Steve Douglas and Dave Newman) took a trip up to Wyoming's Curt Gowdy State Park.



If you click on the link above, there is another link leading to videos showing various trails. It is really a nice park filled with plenty of singletrack. I went with riders that are significantly better on technical terrain than I am, and lucky for me, they are patient and willing to give me pointers on how to be a better rider.



I forgot my camera, but Steve posted some nice shots on his site. Click on any of the shots to enlarge the photo. (Todd with a pick axe is nice...) I'm also told that Todd got video footage of several of us riding down a steepish rocky section. Did I mention that screaming improves your ability to ride tough sections? Some people prefer grunting, others a vocal "Hi-ya!" or a "Yiyeee!" What ever works.



A couple of days ago, I got a call from one of my old trail running buddies, Don Lorenzen (aka Goatman). He offered to take me dirt bike (the kind with an engine) riding tomorrow. I snapped up that offer.



Don is a great guy and I'm told he is an incredible motorcycle rider, as well as a great moto-skills teacher. I know Don raced flat track when he was slightly younger (I've seen photos in his office) and he may have been a motocross racer as well. I'll get more details tomorrow.



I there are probably six or eight of us heading to the town of Mountain Home, Wyoming. I haven't been on a motorcycle since I was about 14 or 15. Hopefully I won't be a complete dork...






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Quotable Quotes I

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Sep 3, 2008

I was going to weave all of these quotes into a nifty story, but can't seem to pull it off. Instead of stalling, I decided to just list the quotes and the situation. Hope you can use them, as appropriate.


Del overheard the conversation between a rider and his support crew. The rider rolled up to his support crew at the last full aid station of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, at roughly mile 75, with another 28 miles left to travel. The support crew eagerly greeted him and asked, "What can we do for you, what do you need?" They were thinking clothing, fluids and fuel...


He replied, "Get me a surgeon. I need to have this anchor surgically removed from my a$$."


I think I've done too much sub-aerobic training: This was Todd Singiser's comment at a stopping point on a group ride. People were sharing reasons why they were suffering or performing sub-par that day and this was Todd's reason. I expanded his comment into a blog found here.


I had a core strength bonk: During the same discussion that brought sub-aerobic training to the forefront, rider Bill Frielingsdorf shared the cause of his demise during a mountain bike race. He said the race was going well until his back and core locked up. The pain was so intense, it ruined his race finish.



Not "my" choice, but let me know how that works out for you: This one came from ultra-distance mountain biker, Scott Ellis. People were obsessively worrying about equipment choices before a mountain bike race. When asked his opinion about some quirky lastest-and-greatest piece of equipment meant to place riders on the podium, his comment was the one listed. He knew they should be obsessing about fitness rather than equipment.



Don't bring a knife to a gunfight: Wise words from Steve Douglas about mid-ride on a day when he decided to ride his heavy, winter training bike and most everyone else was riding carbon velos. Ouch.



The Land of Bubba: This phrase is given to any cycling location where the inhabitants and drivers haze or are otherwise rude to cyclists. Often, the characters are stereotypical beat-up pickup truck drivers that "Don't like them thare lycra-wearin' sissies." The first time I heard the phrase was after cyclist Steve Kwiatkowski was hit from the rear by a pickup pulling a boat trailer (yes loaded with a boat). The pickup cleared him, but the wheels of the boat trailer hit the rear wheel of his bike, launching him into a grassy area. Luckily Steve received only minor injuries. He commented he tries to avoid riding in The Land of Bubba whenever possible. (Incident was more than a year ago in South Carolina. I think The Land of Bubba exists just west of my town, per my road incident a couple of weeks ago.)



Your lips are writing checks your body can't cash: A version of the quote was made famous in the movie Top Gun. While I was visiting the Active offices, seems some race wagers were being made. Well, not wagers so much as...smack talk. Jesse Hammond used this line on fellow coworker Luke Smith.



I'm leaving now to go find myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait: I received this quote through my husband Del, who got it from his friend Bob Loven. It came at the perfect time for me, as I felt I was spinning out of control with things "to do". I couldn't keep track of myself, much less anyone or anything else.



I would have been there, but the bed vines were just too strong: This one comes from Chad Brent. It was his excuse for not showing up to an early morning swim session.



Barn sour: This one comes from my horse riding days. Sometimes barn sour horses are found at public riding stables. Horses that are barn sour, leave the barn plodding along like they have zero energy. You wonder if they are ill or injured they are going so slow at such a taxing effort. It is an effort to get them to leave the barn. At the turn around point of the ride, on the way back to the barn, these barn sour ponies fight the bit trying to race back to the barn. The worst ones are near impossible to control, bolting for the barn. Some bike riders are indeed barn sour. Barn sourism can be thinly veiled as a negative-split ride, but don't be fooled.



Whatever suits me, is alright with you guys: This must be said in a nonchalant, cheerful, cooperative voice. The first time I heard it was when we were trying to decide which ride route to do. When asked his opinion of where to ride, Ed Shaw cheerfully made the noted comment. It took a few seconds for the words to process in my brain, the brain expecting, "Whatever you want to do suits me fine." To pull it off successfully requires the right delivery.



A handy piece of clothing, the Greek pastry: My friend Cathy and I always snickered when people showed up to a cold run or ride commenting about the need to wear their baklava. Over time, the balaclava garment became known as "needing to wear your Greek pastry."



As I collect more, I'll make a Part II...



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