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I’ve written about the Estes Park Challenge in past blogs and the Challenge was in a column that discussed how to set good, challenging goals.

To achieve 12 consecutive months of riding from Loveland, Colorado to the mountain town of Estes Park is not an easy accomplishment. There is often wind, rain, snow,more snow, rain mixed with snow and a shortage of time due to life that can get in your way.




Left to right: Lou Keen, Mike Keen, Bruce Runnels, Lee Rhodes, Scott Ellis, Sherri Goering, Pam Leamons, Brandy Staves, Darcy Tigis, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse (event host) and Jerry Nichols. MIA: Dennis Andersen, Kathy Forbes, Kirk Leamons, Todd Singiser and me. 


For this year’s awards, 17 people achieved the goal by December of 2011 and one person will score a solid 12 in April. This year Jerry Nichols made the awards and they were stunning – a big, big improvement from year one when my artistic talent with poo proved to be lame.


As with every year the dried, lacquered and glued elk poo was part of the coveted Turd Trophy. Jerry took that theme, added cycling chain and a collage photo of all the riders to make the great awards. He cleverly included a box of Elk Duds with each award, stating that extra poo was collected. (He was kidding and the caramel duds could be consumed by humans.)



Anyone living near Loveland is welcome to participate. Below are the basic rules.

Estes or Bust

Rules to achieve the world famousTurd Trophy Award

  • Ride toEstes Park once per month for 12 consecutive months.
  • The starting point can be from anywhere in Loveland, Ft. Collins or Windsor and no further west than the Big Thompson Elementary School.
  • Either route, Highway 34 or via Devil's Gulch Road (Larimer County Road 43 known as the Glen Haven route), is acceptable. If you ride via Highway 34, you must ride west to at least the Estes Park city limit sign near the Olympus Lodge. If you ride via Glen Haven you must ride west to at least the top of the switchbacks where you can see Longs Peak.
  • A return trip sans car and via bike back to Loveland is not mandatory, but encouraged when conditions are safe and fitness allows. (This means you only have to rideup (one way) to have the trip count towards your trophy goal.)
  • Riding from Loveland to Lyons to Estes Park via either Highway 7 or 36 counts. This ride can be one way just to Estes or round trip back to Loveland.
  • The honor system is strictly enforced - ride with or without the group, with a buddy or solo.
  • You can start any month of the year and go for 12 consecutive months or begin in January and go for a calendar year.


Rule clarification questions or rule change requests can be sent to The Rules Committee will review change requests.


Ride on!

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As most people know by now, the federal grand jury has decided to drop the case against Lance Armstrong. A reader dropped me a note and asked if the information that grand jury gathered becomes public or if it is sealed?


I can see both arguments, taxpayers paid for the information so it should be public.


However, if reputation-damaging information is disclosed (whether it is Lance or others on the periphery) then what’s the point?


Legal eagles, let me know on my Facebook page.

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Here’s a good winter workout for you Vasa Trainer users.


Do a warm-up of around 5 minutes. Then do the following swims at Zone 1-2 intensity (intensity guide in the free download section). Between each swim is a 30-second recovery interval, unless otherwise specified: 


300, 200, 100


Rest 1 minute, then do:


4 x 50 at Zone 3intensity, keeping the rest interval at 30 seconds.


Swim easy Zone 1 to cool down for about 5 minutes.


The main goal of the workout is for pace to increase for each segment - i.e., 50's pace faster than the 100, 100 faster than 200, 200 faster than 300 pace.

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One of the most frustrating things for endurance athletes to deal with is a winter weather. It’s tough maintain fitness given cold and shortdays, but to get sick on top of it is maddening.


When I wrote the story on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, one thing that I learned from the research is that aerobic exercise builds the immune system, while long durations of high intensity exercise stresses the immune system.


I was never able to find what experts believe to be the threshold for how much is "too much intensity." Does 30 seconds of anaerobic work tear down the immune system? How about a minute? Is it cumulative? Does 5 minutes spread over an hour tip people over the threshold of tearing down the immune system?


In short, we don’t know for sure.


When I have an athlete that is recovering from a cold, but not quite well yet (some seven to 10 days after the onset of cold symptoms), one workout I will include is intervals right around lactate threshold power (LTP).  If you are using power now, you know your training zones based on a time trial. If you don’t have a system now, you can reference the free download intensity document and chart used in my training plans to give you a place to start.


The workout

Warm up 10 minutes at Zone 1 to 2 intensity

Beginning at the 10-minute mark, do 10 x 1 minute at the prescribed power level. Take 4 minutes of easy spinning at Zone 1 to 2 intensity between each interval. Intensity levels for each interval are:

#1 and #2 = LTP minus 25 to 20 watts

#3 and #4 = LTP minus 20 to 15 watts

#6 through #10 = LTP minus 10 watts to plus 5 watts


For example, if your LTP is 200 watts, your intervals would go as follows:

#1 and #2 = 175 to 180 watts

#3 and #4 = 180 to 185 watts

#6 through #10 = 190 to 205 watts


I’ve found that this workout helps ease the athlete backinto higher levels of work, without being exhausting. I do adjust the intervals some, depending on the individual athlete. You may have to adjust the power levels some or reduce the number of intervals, but remember the main goal is to recover from the illness to 100-percent health.

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Myth #1: Coyotes live in the country or rural areas. (They thrive in cities as large as Chicago.)


Myth #2: Coyotes are shy creatures and won’t approach humans. (There were six reported cases of coyotes approaching and biting humans and 11 reports of human-coyote encounters through September of 2011 in Colorado.) 


Myth #3: Coyotes are not pack hunters. (If you read the Chicago link above, you’ll know that coyotes do indeed exhibit pack behaviors.I’ll tell you about a dog getting killed by a pack of coyotes in Aspen later in the blog.)


In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that my six-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback tangled with a coyote about three weeks ago. The incident happened in an open field that’s close to my house. The field is owned by a developer that has not put houses on the land yet. The field is bordered by houses and city features on three sides, open foothills on the fourth side.


I have visited this field a few times, taking the dogs there for a walk or a romp. I go there because I don’t have to deal with the goose poop that litters my local park. When the dogs eat goose poo, they can get a bacterial infection that causes extreme diarrhea.


Additionally, dogs are not allowed off-leash in city parks, even to chase balls, Frisbees or romp with each other. I let my dogs run off-leash in this field to burn off energy on the days I can’t take them for a run.


You might wonder why I don’t take them to a dog park. The closest dog park is a 30- to 40-minute round trip drive and I’d have more time invested in driving than exercising the dogs. Sometimes just 20 minutes of romping is all they need.


When I arrived at the field, I noticed there were no other people walking their dogs in the big rectangular area. Generally, I don’t let the dogs off-leash when there are other dogs or people around. With the coast clear, I let Meeka off leash. Before I had time to let Addie off, Meeka tensed up and took off running like a bullet. I looked up and saw a coyote about 200 to 250 yards away.


Screaming my lungs out for her to “come!” did no good. She responds to the command correctly about 99.5 percent of the time. This was a bad time not to respond.


As I was running toward the pair, still yelling, I saw them touch noses and then a dog brawl broke out. Seeing your dog in an all-out battle is horrible. After only a few rounds, they broke it up and the coyote headed north, Meeka headed back to me.


I was worried about what I would see when she got to me.


When she got to me, I could see a bite on her rear leg. Luckily, the coyote didn’t “hamstring” her. It was a skin wound and not a tendon wound. I’m assuming this is where the term “hamstrung” came from and that is when an animal severs the hamstring of another animal in order to cripple it.


I also noticed a bite in her side, where the coyote got a piece of her skin sliced open and pulled away from the underlying tissue a bit. It was “V” shaped with each leg of the “V” at about ¾-of-an-inch long.


I loaded her into the car and took her to the vet, which was only a few blocks away. When I arrived at the vet, the tech that checked me in asked if I saw any other coyotes. I didn’t, but then I wasn’t looking around much and didn’t see the first one before Meeka saw it.


Just the day before, the vet tech had an experience in eastern Colorado where she lives. A lone coyote enticed her Doberman to chase. Her Dobie, normally good about returning on command, continued to chase the coyote and ignored her calls to “come.”


The tech looked up and realized that the coyote was leading her Dobie back to the pack. She jumped on her four-wheeler and raced to break up the pending disaster. Luckily, she arrived in time and her Dobie wasn’t attacked by the pack.


She told me should I decide to leave the dog off-leash that I needed to be aware that coyotes will lure domestic dogs into a chase. Sometimes the pack sends a playful female in heat to entice dogs to chase or play. Once lured back to the pack, the pack surrounds the dog and kills it. A dog was killed in Aspen last year prompting a statewide alert, which I somehow missed.


City-dwelling coyotes, like the ones in Bel-Air, California, find dogs in a backyard to be easy prey. One was killed on Christmas morning last year.


Meeka ended up with stitches in her hind leg, in three spots. She had stitches and a drain tube in her side. The tube came out in two days and the stitches were removed in two weeks. On the happy day her stitches were removed, she and Addie had a giant play-fest in the back yard.


Somehow, Addie ended up with a slit in her back leg so it was a trip back to the vet that day to get four staples in Addie’s leg. (Hence two dogs in neck donuts.) We inspected the yard for nails sticking out of the fence, sharp corners on the b-b-q grill, etc. We can’t find what caused Addie’s injury. There’s a chance it could have been a play accident caused by a tooth or foot nail.


Both dogs are happy and fine now. My long-term goal is no more vet visits due to injuries. The short-term goal is to make it one month. I’ll build from there.


Knowing what I know now about coyotes, I’m afraid to let the dogs off-leash. I don’t know how that will change, or if it will.

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If you have, or have had, a dog you are surely familiar with “the cone of shame.” The term became more familiar to non-dog owners in the film UP. The highfalutin term for the cone of shame is an Elizabethan collar. When a dog has had some sort of wound, surgery or stitches, the vet recommends putting the cone of shame on the dog to keep the dog from licking open the stitches or making a wound worse.


Below, you can see Meeka modeling the cone of shame.


You can hear her saying the same thing as the dog in Up, “I do not like the cone of shame.”


An alternative that I wasn’t aware of, until recently is the donut.  The donut is more comfortable for the dog and doesn’t cause as much house damage. Non-dog owners may wonder, “House damage?”


Yep, the dog goes bashing through the house allowing the cone to run into walls, corners, woodwork, coffee tables, nick-knacks, etc. I just know they are wishing to destroy the cone – whatever it takes. Below you will notice that Addie indeed destroyed her cone and managed to eat some of the parts. Don’t worry, the parts came up (yes up – like in barfing) two nights later at 2:00am. Nothing will get you out of bed faster than the plunger-I’m-about-to-barf noise.



Addie was wearing her cone in late December when she got spayed. Meeka, in the first photo set, was wearing her cone and a t-shirt to cover the wounds she got during a kerfluffle with a coyote. (More on that in the next blog.)


The day Meeka got her stitches out, Addie managed to get a slice in her rear leg that required four staples. Two trips to the vet that day and three trips (due to multiple product problems) to PetSmart for donuts.January was a rough month.


Both dogs in donuts…




Man I'm glad January is over. The 1st to the 26th was rough. February has been much, much better.


The next blog is what I've learned about coyotes recently.

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