Sheila is a fierce competitor; there is no doubt about it. When she sets a goal, she goes after it with dogged determination. How determined? More determined than anyone, as no other woman in history has gone to the Olympic Games in three different sports.
I'm told one male has gone to the Games in three sports, but I need to verify this. I'll do some research and get back to you.
Sheila's Olympic travels began when she won a gold medal in the 1996 Games in swimming. In these Atlanta Games she swam the third leg of the 800-meter freestyle relay race for the United States. Her journey continued when she qualified for the 2000 and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic teams. (Most of you know triathlon is swimming, cycling and running.) Sheila placed sixth in the triathlon in Sydney, 2000 and 23rd in Athens, 2004.
For the 2008 Beijing Games, Sheila is competing in the sport of modern pentathlon. What is pentathlon? Competitors earn points for their performances in each of the five disciplines: pistol shooting, epee fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and cross-country running. As we get closer to the Games, I'll detail more on the sport of pentathlon.
ESPN's Carrie Sheinberg wrote a great column on Sheila that can be found here.
Sheila is one of eight children. Her family is top priority for her. Prior to past Olympic Games, Sheila sold t-shirts to help finance travel to the Games for a few family members. She is doing it again, but this time the t-shirt has special meaning. It is part of history.
Sheila's sister Sudee designed the shirt. The t-shirt design includes the flags of all four countries that have hosted the four Olympics in which Sheila has competed. They are a backdrop within the design, so you should see the flags for the USA, Australia, Greece, and China. Also, all five sports of the modern pentathlon included in the design. Take note how the fencer's bell-guard is also the target for the shooter.
You can see the shirt on Sheila's website and there is easy ordering from Amazon on that site via the special link. Notice the price of the shirt, only $20, includes shipping.
Now, for a bit of extra effort on your part (writing a check and sending an order form in the ordinary mail system) you can get the shirt directly from Sheila's family, have it signed by Sheila if you wish and get a certificate of authenticity.
If you are not currently on the home page for this blog, click on the title of the blog. At the bottom of the blog you will find an attachment that is the order form for the t-shirt.
I'm happy to help Sheila and her family.
I traveled to many events on the ITU World Cup circuit with Shiela, we had a lot of good laughs. In the coming weeks, I'll share some of the stories and a few behind-the-scenes photos. Below is a photo of Sheila relaxing on the curb in front of our house after the 2004 Olympic Triathlon event.
She missed our first July pre-ride because she was vacationing in Mexico for 10 days with her family. We hooked up last Friday and headed up to Twin Lakes for a pre-ride of the Columbine Mine climb.
Below is a photo of the gang at Twin Lakes. Left to right: Roy Gatesman, Dave Newman, Susan Williams, Ernie Wintergerst, Jeff Bruno, Scott Ellis, Stewart Pomeroy and Todd Kornfield. (Roy, Todd and Stewart work at Peloton Cycles, my favorite bike shop.)
Catching up with Susan, she is enjoying time with her two daughters, Syndey and Elysia, along with husband Tim. She is coaching other athletes to be successful out of her home base of Littleton, Colorado. She stays active by doing some racing and training.
The weekend before the Leadville race she is doing the 200-Mile Colorado Wild West Relay as one member of a six person team. While not optimal training and rest for the Leadville race, she's enjoying doing different kinds of events and staying fit. For Leadville, her biggest goal is to enjoy the event. (She says her mountain bike skills are still in the development stages, especially the downhill.)
The group enjoyed the Columbine climb that is not quite as enjoyable on race day. A map of the event can be found here, with the Columbine climb being the high pointy spot in the center.
On race day, there is two-way traffic on the road. In some places the road is in good shape (like where the hare is crossing below at about 12,000 ft. elevation) and in other places there is still snow.
Okay wildlife experts is this a common hare (I think this is not a rabbit, but is a hare - verify for me) or a snowshoe hare? Seems big for a snowshoe hare, but those are incredibly furry hind feet. What do you think?
Above the hare photo location on the mountain, remains a giant snowfield. The group estimates it is at least a couple of feet deep and we wonder if it will be gone by race day.
Roy is beginning to cross the snowfield and Todd is pushing through on the next photo. Roy and Stewart are taking in the view post-snowfield in the third photo below.
At the top is an old structure that reminds me of how hard life would have been in the rich mining times of Leadville. Imagine living and working at 12,600 feet in the late 1800s. Tough people, really tough.
A second view at the top shows surrounding peaks and clouds threatening to drop rain. Time to get off the mountain.
We did beat the rain and had enough time to stop into race headquarters and introduce Susan to Merilee (the race director). Susan is so humble and unassuming that she didn't bother to tell the race directors of her past accomplishments. I have no problem telling others about Susan's great accomplishments - she rocks!
I have to admit, I'm an Olympic junkie. I've been a big fan of the Olympic Games, summer and winter, since I was a kid. I would be glued to the television every night watching a recap of what was likely the previous day's events.
Several years ago, I invested in a set of books "[The Olympic Century|http://www.harveyabramsbooks.com/olympiccentury.html]". I don't make many impulse purchases; but, I'll admit this was an impulse purchase. At the time, the books were not printed and they were taking pre-orders. The cost for the set was in the $350 neighborhood. I sent my money, then waited.
After more than a year, I began to believe the money spent on books was down the drain because I hadn't seen a single book. Right as I was delivering the second kick to my own behind for being a fool, books began showing up on my doorstep. I now have all but Volume 2. From the site, "Volume 2 has not been printed yet due to copyright litigation with the National Olympic Committee of France. When ready it will be shipped directly by the publisher at no charge to you."
I'm still hoping for that Volume 2.
With just 21 days to go until opening ceremonies, this Olympic Games is sure to be another good one for the history books. Around the world, we will know about what is going on at the Olympics faster than any previous Games due to the internet and cable television.
Each day of the Games, you can read about results in many, many places. While I'll highlight the results of some of my favorite events, I'll also give you a behind-the-scenes look at the Games.
The first tidbit I'll share is that each person traveling as a member of the United States Olympic Team in 2004 was required to sign a "Code of Conduct". I suspect there is a similar document for Beijing.
I'll cover some of the items in the document throughout the next few weeks. The first item:
As a Member of the Team, I hereby promise and agree that I will not act as a journalist, media liaison or in any other media capacity during the Games period.
This is why you won't see individual websites documenting the current Games journey and process. The 2004 document had 23 bullet items on it and breaking the Code of Conduct could mean immediate dismissal from the team.
Today, I'll leave you with one of my favorite photos I took at the 2004 Games. It is a shot of the medals ceremony for the 200-meter men's event. I attended an evening of track and field events after the triathlon race was over. It was a full stadium, with the torch in the background and the Star-Spangled Banner playing during the medal ceremony. With three USA athletes on the podium, I couldn't stop the tears from streaming. In that moment what struck me was the number of years it took for those athletes to get to that one Olympic race and on the podium. I also thought about the number of people it takes to make the Olympic Games what it is now. (Clicking on the photo makes it larger for better viewing.)
In the last blog, we spent the day mountain bike riding around Grand Lake, Colorado. Day 7, the last day of the tour, we rode the 78 miles from the Grand Lake entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park to Loveland. I've ridden over Trail Ridge Road many times and I never get bored with it.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest paved, continuous, highway in the United States. (Recall Mt. Evans, that we did on Day 2, is the highest paved road North America.) Trail Ridge is closed in the winter and the National Park officials try to have it open by Memorial Day each year.
If you decide to ride this scenic route, know that bikes are charged $10 each to get into the National Park. If you're driving, it's $10 per vehicle. For the locals, $35 gets you and annual pass for your vehicle. In our situation, it was much more economical to drive a couple of miles and begin inside the park.
The gang that did the last day's ride included Ed Shaw, Todd Singiser, me, Bill Frielingsdorf and Scott Ellis.
The ride begins with lush meadows as a backdrop. No one got a photo of the bull elk in full velvet and giant racks; but you can see several cow elk and a wild turkey(?) in the shot below.
As the road climbs, the terrain changes from meadows to rocky forest. Bill and Todd are climbing with stealth-sag Sandy, Craig and Allie close behind.
In the shot below, Ed is tossing Janie his water bottle and off-camera she gives him a new one. Other than the flying water bottle, and of course Ed, there are a few other interesting items to note in this photo. First, the dark area on the right third of the photo is the last of the trees. Ed is riding above treeline (roughly 11,500 ft.). Eleven miles of this road are above treeline and the high point is 12,183. You are indeed on top of the world riding here.
The road moves to the left side of the photo, curving around until it is beneath Ed. The post you see on the side of the road is so snowplows can tell where the road is when it is time to plow in the spring. The rotary snow remover can cut into snow drifts as high as 21 ft. and blow the snow up into the air 150 ft.
In the photo below, I am closing in on the area known as Rock Cut, after crossing the Continental Divide and over the High Point overlook. You can barely see the road winding behind me and disappearing about mid-photo.
Scott Ellis took a photo of cow elk, managing to find something to eat well above treeline.
While Ed got himself down off of the mountain, the rest of us hammed it up for a photo. (Allie, Craig and Todd Singiser, me, Scott and Bill.)
A great trip made possible by Del and his stealth sag driving team of Janie Shaw and Sandy Singiser.
We stopped in Estes for a bite of lunch, then headed down the mountain to Loveland. Our ride time for today was 4:21 and "out" time was 6:00.
I don't have total ride time for the week, but "out" time was close to 36:30. A big week for sure.
After a brief break for the 4th of July holiday, some video work for the new TIMEX Ironman® Fitness Tracker watch (very cool product that counts steps, distance, calories, time, for walking, jogging and running accumulated throughout your day) and one day wasted canceling charge cards and banking accounts due to a stolen purse...I'll continue with the bike tour story.
In the last blog, we were staying in Grand Lake and did a mountain bike ride. On Day 6 of the ride, we decided to stay at Grand Lake and explore more mountain bike trails. The best trail map we had was vintage 1999. We did have a newer map, but it wasn't as detailed and easy to read.
The grand plan was to ride a big loop from our cabins west to "Spruce ‘em Up Jack" and make our way to Gilsonite, then Wolverine and then east toward North Supply and toward Highway 34 (similar to Day 5).
Riding today was Bill Frielingsdorf, Scott Ellis, Todd Singiser, Dennis Andersen and I.
On a grand adventure, we rode a mix of road, ATV trails (some torn up) sweet singletrack through dry forest, moo-poo pits (yech), more sweet single track through lush green forest, some tough/rocky single track and then a little snow.
For awhile, we could pick our way over the snow drifts to ride for a bit before pushing again. Soon, it was all pushing the bikes and post-holing in deeper and wider snowfields.
Hmmmm...lost the trail...dang. Snow foiled our plans again.
We spent some time trying to locate the trail and after we couldn't find it, we decided to just retrace our tracks...literally. As much as everyone wanted to ride a loop, we decided it wasn't wise without a clear trail. And...we're all getting tired.
The day ended up being much longer than we originally planned, out time was 5:44. Everyone said it would be great to go back and ride the entire loop when the snow melts.
Tomorrow, the final Day 6...Road ride from Grand Lake to Loveland.
Yesterday was a great day of dirt in Winter Park. For today, with transportation and optimizing-sag-personnel-time issues, we made a decision to drive everyone to Grand Lake, get an early check-in at the Mountain Lakes Lodge and then just mountain bike around the Grand Lake area.
Because Grand Lake is not particularly known for mountain bike riding, we figured we'd do a shorter ride today and then drive back to Winter Park or Solvista for a dirt day tomorrow.
We ended up being out, wearing chamois and near bicycles, for about 3:30 today. We explored several trails on the west side of Highway 34, near our lodge. While the ATV crowd has some of the trails torn up with very deep ruts and loose rocks, we did stumble on to some sweet single track. We figured out how to do a loop that began via Highway 34 and County Road 4, near the lodge. The loop dropped out on Highway 34 just north of Grand Lake.
We decided the trails were sweet enough that didn't have to drive somewhere for Day 6, but do more exploring around Grand Lake.
I, again, managed to leave the camera in the lodge. (Body fatigue and brain fade?) So, I'll leave you with the following, non-trail photos:
Sag team logistics
The sag team needed the vehicle-room to rescue cyclists off of high mountain passes, should the weather turn bad. (This has happened before on Trail Ridge Road and other high mountain road rides.) The team also had to have the capability to transport two bikes per rider and a few sag-team bikes as well. The line-up can be seen below:
Other than cyclists, there was plenty of wildlife to enjoy. Del caught this coyote hunting, and scoring, breakfast on the last day of the trip. Cool:
After a shorter day yesterday, the plan for today was to mountain bike the reputable Tipperary Creek route used for the Winter Park mountain bike race. I was eager to do this trail again. The last time I rode it was during my first mountain bike stage race. Another story all together...
Gale: "How much further to the finish? I think I have enough water."
Sweet volunteer: "Oh honey, you're only half way!"
Gale: "Guess I'll take some of that water."
Based on the Rollins Pass snow report from the bike shops and Ernie's ride from Winter Park up Rollins Pass until he hit snow and snow removal equipment, we decided to check on the Tippearary Creek trail condition.
One of the bike shop employees at Grand Sports told us that at 10,000 feet the trail becomes impassable due to fields of snow. Darn. I didn't get his name, but he was very helpful to map out routes that were in good condition.
Some video from the King of the Rockies race can be found here. Winter Park maps can be found here.
Some of us stayed at the Vintage Hotel (very dog-friendly) which is between Winter Park and Mary Jane. A couple of people stayed downtown. The goal was to ride a big loop so no one had to drive. We did manage a nice loop.
We rode from Winter Park to Fraser and then up Elk Creek Road. From there we took Creekside to Spruce Creek, Sunken Bridges, D2, WTB, D4 and from there I'm not sure. We did finish at the Winter Park base area via a trail that had ramps, jumps and sweet banked turns. One turn was built high - around 5 feet or so. This one required a do-again by Bill so he could rail the turn.
There were multiple stops to look at maps to be sure we were heading in the right direction. We wanted to avoid closed trails and trails that were gushing with runoff water.
Unfortunately, I left my camera at the condo, so I didn't get any photos from the day. I think Scott got some, so maybe I'll add one later.
Snowballs were thrown and there were issues with migratory rocks. (Ernie, FYI, after you left to drive home, you were implicated in the rock "incidents".)
Actual ride time was not recorded. Out time was 4:48. Since we are in our chamois, this is considered training time. This spring we saw Georgia Gould, who lives in Ft. Collins near us, and she told us "as long as you're in a chamois, you're training". She's fast, and the first woman to clinch a spot on the USA Cycling Olympic team on the mountain side, so we have adopted this philosophy. BIG congrats to Georgia for making the team.
Since I'd like to leave you with photos, below is a snapshot of Craig Singiser and the two giant fish he pulled out of the canal between Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby. The Brown was three pounds!
The next photo is Meeka on cyclist patrol, looking for "her" cyclists.
Tomorrow, Day 5...Road bike to Grand Lake, mountain bike in Winter Park, or mountain bike in
Yesterday was a sweet ride up Mt. Evans. Today, the original plan was to mountain bike from Central City over Rollins Pass to Winter Park. Scott Ellis made a few phone calls to bike shops in Winter Park to check on the condition of Rollins pass and they said, "unpassable". Darn.
The back-up plan was to ride road bikes from Central City to Winter Park. That plan, however, needed modification as well. The first plan was to ride east on 119, connect to the Clear Creek Canyon Road and then to Idaho Springs. From there we would ride the Frontage Road to Empire and a sweet climb up Berthoud Pass and descent into Winter Park.
Foiled. No bikes allowed on the Clear Creek Canyon Road.
There is another way out of Central City that connects to the new Parkway and then Idaho Springs. The name of that route is, "Oh My God Road". Gee, wonder why they call it that? Let's do a pre-drive.
There is good reason it is called Oh My God Road. That is what I kept repeating as our car moaned to climb the road. To get out of bed and immediately start this climb is a recipe for blowing up knees. Not a good idea.
Plan D: The Sag Teams (Del and Meeka; Sandy, Allie and Craig Singiser; and Janie Shaw) hauled us to Empire via cars and we started our road ride from Empire. A much-needed shorter day, though still a good amount of climbing. It is 26 miles with a total gain of roughly 5,829 feet over 13 miles and a descent of 4,941 feet over 23 miles.
I love Berthoud Pass. It's a sweet climb. Not many photos today, just one of a waterfall next to the road. Ride time 1:55, out time 2:15.