In past blogs I’ve mentioned that I live in a city (Loveland, Colorado) where there are several bronze foundries and an international art show.
This morning on my way to have coffee at the Coffee Tree there was a huge bronze sculpture loaded on a trailer getting ready for transport. The title of the piece is “Rock ‘n Roll” by George Lundeen. A couple of shots are included below. The chain on the piece is real (and still flexible for now). The cyclist will surely need to replace the derailleur because it is crashed into a rock.
Last week I saw a special report on American Airlines. The report by 9News Denver noted that American has made each one of its drink carts 12 pounds lighter. Multiply this weight savings over 19,000 carts and 600 planes, and American is saving 1.8 million gallons of fuel equating to $5 Million.
I know that weighing each passenger and their carryon baggage may bring airport delays and complaints, but what if passengers could opt-in for the weigh in? What if that opt-in could reduce your ticket price, result in a refund or perhaps reward you with some frequent flyer miles?
Would you opt for an airport weigh in if it took a bit more time, but you could be rewarded for being lighter than the “average” passenger?
It has been a long time – at least 10 years – since I’ve gone downhill skiing. Last fall, one of my goals was to downhill ski at least two times in the upcoming season.
One down, one to go.
Yesterday, my friend Michele Stumbaugh and I went to Copper Mountain. I have to say the snow gods must have been conspiring to encourage me to continue Alpine skiing because the conditions were absolutely perfect. It was a sunny day, no wind and some locals we rode the chairlift with said they haven’t had this much snow since 1982.
I did a really bad job of taking photos, mostly because while riding the lift I had a phobia of dropping my cell phone. You might wonder why I didn’t take a photo at the top of the lift and that’s a reasonable question. The short answer is focus.
I was so focused on proper unloading, steering my skis in the right direction and avoiding crashes with small children that taking photos was the last thing on my mind. The only photo taken was in the parking lot.
I got a new Giro helmet for Christmas and yesterday was the inaugural outing. Before the trip I was somewhat concerned that I’d find a helmet annoying; but I have to admit it was really comfortable. Once I had it on, I never gave it a second thought.
Eyeballing the skiing and boarding crowd, I was surprised how many people wear helmets these days. I was expecting around 50 percent, but if yesterday's group was a reasonable sample size I’d guess the number to be closer to 90 percent.
I could go on and on about the number of things that have changed in the sport of skiing the last 10 years, but one thing remains the same and that’s the stunning beauty of the Colorado mountains.
Today I was off the back of the group ride. Waaaaaay back. It’s interesting how not riding your bike can, and will, make you slow when you get back on the bike. This is particularly true for rides over an hour and when compared to other people that have been riding.
I was kind of thinking (secretly hoping?) that I’m not like all the rest of you humans – I’m special.
Ah, special indeed.
Turns out, I’m just like everyone else. Dang.
Two of today’s group, Peter Stackhouse and Bruce Runnels, are seen riding through “The Narrows” towards Estes Park, Colorado.
It has been three weeks since I’ve been on the bike for over an hour. In that three weeks, I’ve been on a spin bike twice and no rides outside.
Sure I’ve been doing a bit of skiing, a little running, a dab of excuse making (reasons why I skipped an indoor ride). Sometimes a harsh visual, such as no other riders in sight, is enough to motivate me. Yes, this afternoon I feel more motivated. Will it last?
Time will tell.
One thing I can say for sure is that not riding the bike definitely makes me slow and I’m certain it does the same for you.
Will you ride this week?
Appropriately named a Colorado kickstand by Carl Ciacci
Not only is the Vail cycling community unhappy, the incident made Colorado network news. The Vail Daily reported that prosecutors decided not to file felony charges against a financial manager for wealthy clients in an alleged hit-and-run incident.
The decision to not file felony charges are apparently not based on the alleged incident, rather on the financial status of the person, Martin Erzinger, driving the car. The District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said that Erzinger is willing to take responsibility and pay restitution. Because of his willingness to pay, felony charges weren’t pressed.
“Felony convictions have some pretty serious job implications for someone in Mr. Erzinger's profession, and that entered into it,” Hurlbert said. “When you're talking about restitution, you don't want to take away his ability to pay.”
A regular blog reader dropped me a note to point out that this is the same District Attorney that filed felony charges against the cyclists that sold a $250 race entry to another rider. The Denver Post reported on the filing and I wrote about the incident in the spring. The felony charges were eventually dropped.
I’m not understanding the logic behind felony charges against the two female racers; but none against the alleged hit-and-run driver. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.
Further, do you think legal charges should be based on the ability to pay restitution?
Would you be interested in spectating all or part of this race?
Would you be more interested if there was a UCI women's race along with the men's event?
Would you be even more interested if you could race as a licensed rider during the event? (i.e. There were crits for age/category riders held in one of the finishing cities in the morning and the pros finish in the afternoon.)
Since there has been a lag between this post and my last bike tour post (due to the Tour de France postings), I decided to do some consolidation.
Day 5 was a day off in Pagosa Springs. The morning included a short hike and in the early afternoon a couple of us did a short and easy spin to keep our legs loose. One big find on this day was a store that sells poop.
Those of you familiar with the infamous Turd Trophy know how fond I am of lacquered poop. As it turns out, I’m not the only one that knows the value of these shiny treasures.
The store front is located just outside of Pagosa Springs. I didn’t get a chance to go into the store to find out if I should consider a second business of turd ornament manufacturing. Maybe I’ll stop in next time.
Day 6 of the tour was from Pagosa Springs to Monte Vista, with Wolf Creek Pass featured as the big climb of the day. In the photo below, I’m climbing the pass and you can see the “Runaway Truck Ramp” behind me. For those unfamiliar with steep mountain passes, when a big truck misses a gear or loses its brakes there is an uphill ramp made of deep gravel. The semi truck is to drive into the gravel and uphill rather than careening to an accident somewhere downhill. I’ve see the deep tracks in those ramps and can’t imagine how scary it would be to be out of control and heading toward one of those ramps.
Since we did seem to have the tour-de-wind this year, Day 6 didn’t disappoint with more winds heading into Monte Vista. Our regular Sunday ride group worked well and it turned out to be fun.
It was a 72-mile day, 4:05 ride time (17.5 mph avg), 5:12 “out” time, 3,911 feet of climbing.
Day 7 was the final march to the finish line. We rode from just outside Center to Gunnison, Colorado. Due to lodging differences and an early start to begin driving home, there were only three of us riding together today. (Todd Singiser, me and Bruce Runnels in the photo below on one of our last stops.)
The final day for us was 94.4 miles, 5:20 ride time (17.7 mph avg), “out” time of 6:05 and 3271 feet of climbing.
In the next post I’ll do a summary chart for you and explain how this week of fun is a big boost to fitness.
On day four of the tour we deserved an easy day after day three.
Before I launch into describing day four, I have to tell you that there are many options for lodging during the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. There is the outdoor camping option for hard cores. This means the tour company lugs your bags (limited size, number and weight) and you set up your tent at the end of each day’s ride.
There is an option where someone else sets up a tent for you. If you don’t want to risk sleeping in rain or wind, there is an indoor camping option. That means the tour home base each night is at a big facility (usually a school) and you get to sleep with about 400 of your closest friends on a gymnasium floor.
There is a tour-based hotel option. That means a tour company reserves rooms for you, moves your baggage from location to location and you get to sleep in a real bed each night.
Finally, there is the VIP option. This means someone you know transports your stuff from hotel to hotel and is usually within 10 miles of you on any given day. This person takes your warm clothing before a climb and gives it back to you at the top of the climb. They have cold drinks, including Coke, whenever you please. There is food in the cooler, a dog that greets you at each stop and critically important – a French press in the car for good, really good, coffee each morning.
Three of us selected the VIP option.
We had the luxury of Del (my husband) and support dog (Meeka) taking care of us. This is a huge benefit.
(Todd, Bruce, me, Del, Meeka)
During the tour week, we tried to optimize our benefits by selecting days to ride fast, and some to ride easy. Today was an easy day for three of us. Three other people that we often rode with during the tour had their heads down, riding fast, foaming at the mouth and they completely missed the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. They argued there was no sign. Hmmmmmm….
We enjoyed the ride at a toodle (easy) pace. At the end of the day, several of us went to dinner to celebrate my birthday. The dinner fun was a nice addition to the tour.
No, I get by with a little help from my friends Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help from My Friends
We stayed at the Fireside Inn Cabins in Pagosa Springs. This was our favorite lodging for the entire trip. The cabins are set next to the San Juan River and offer quality, comfortable lodging for humans, dogs and livestock.
Today’s stats: Ride time 2:50, Out time 4:00, 51.33 miles, 2241 ft ascending, 17.1 mph
Looking forward to a day off tomorrow; but we did ride some.
On day three of the tour, we rode from Alamosa, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico. It was a steady climb out of Alamosa for about 30 miles before we got into some rollers. From there it was a combination of rollers and climbing over two passes I hadn’t done before – La Manga (10,320 ft.) and Cumbres (10,022 ft.).
(Gale happily climbing LaManga. The ribs are tolerating eight pedal strokes out of the saddle today. Progress!)
While we had some tailwinds yesterday, today began and ended with unfavorable wind. Not just a little wind. It was relentless, strong wind that was blowing in our face most of the day. Downhill sections required pedaling. Ugh.
When we first rolled out of Alamosa, we got intermingled in a big group. I hate being in a big group of riders that I don’t know and are not categorized by riding ability. I’ve seen too many accidents happen when inexperienced riders get mixed into a group of experienced riders.
While I hated the situation, I hated the constant headwind worse. I worked my way toward the front of the group and looked for wheels of those I trust.
After the first aid station, a core group of people I know, and ride with often, were able to begin a rolling paceline were no rider stayed on the front for very long. We disallowed people to enter the paceline. We were fine if they wanted to sit on the back of the group and draft, but no one was allowed into the rotation.
No matter how the race is run it always ends the same Another room without a view awaits downtown You can shake me for a while Live it up in style No matter what you do I'm gonna take you down
CHORUS: Shakedown Breakdown Takedown Everybody wants into the crowded line
Bob Seger – “Shakedown”
I offered several riders the explanation of why we rode this way:
- We ride together often and can predict what the other rider will do.
- The formation is tight to shelter people from the wind.
- Please take no offense to your personal skill level, you are likely a great rider. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered people that did not have the group riding skills to keep all of us safe.
Most riders do understand, but I know some take offense. Sorry.
I will say it is a ton of fun to ride in a group like ours. We shelter each other from the wind and do our best to work together for the good of all.
Well…with a couple of notable exceptions:
- There are some city limit sign sprints.
- State border signs count double points.
(Left to right: Bruce Runnels, Scott Ellis, Bill Frielingsdorf, me, Ron Kennedy, Todd Singiser)
Though there was plenty of good fun ramping up the speed, I don’t think anyone can tell you the sprint or king of the mountain scores.
The reward for a hard, hard day in the saddle was the best Spanish rice I’ve ever had and killer green chili. I think it was called the Fireside Inn restaurant, next door to our cabins. We walked there for linner (late lunch, early dinner) and evening pie or ice cream.
Ride time 5:00, “out” time 6:34, 80.56 miles, 16.1 mph avg., 3216 ft of climbing
In another blog, I’ll give you more information on intensity each day. In the mean time, scenery photos below.
(Most blog photos for the bike tour were taken by Del Bernhardt)
In Colorado, and many other states, each year thousands of people get lost or injured in the backcountry. Many are rescued by dedicated, un-paid, professional search and rescue (SAR) people that operate under the direction of a given County Sheriff.
The first time I became familiar with purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreational Search and Rescue Card (CORSAR) was several years ago when I did the 24-hours of Steamboat mountain bike race. Though there was a one-year option, it seemed like a good investment to me so I purchased a 5-year card for $12.
I forgot about the card because my wallet was stolen a couple of years ago, so I didn’t notice the card was expired. A recent rescue near Frisco, Colorado where two snowboarders triggered an avalanche that required a Army chopper reminded me that I spend a lot of time in the backcountry (skiing, cycling, running and hiking) and in the (hopefully) unlikely case that I get lost or injured; I want to support the people that come looking for me.
Colorado State legislature established a Search and Rescue Fund in 1987 to help with the costs incurred in SAR activities involving people holding hunting or fishing licenses, vessel, snowmobile or off-highway vehicle registrations or a CORSAR card.
There is a 25 cent surcharge on all hunting and fishing licenses, vessel (boat), snowmobile and off-highway vehicle registrations to support the fund. For people that purchase a CORSAR card (like I just did, again), 2/3 of the costs go to the SAR Fund.
If you want to support the people that may come looking for you someday, investigate if your state has a SAR Fund.
I mentioned in last week’s blog that the Wednesday temperature was 70 degrees. I was mountain biking on that day. Just two days later on Friday we had a big snowstorm. With San Diego friends Rob Klingensmith and Julie Gildred in town, it was perfect timing to snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday. Sunday was a 100-mile road ride. Now if I could have squeezed in a water skiing afternoon…
Big temperature swings are common for Colorado in March. It is also our biggest snow month. While the unruly weather can make some endurance athletes anxious, it affords others the chance to play in the snow just one more time before Mother Nature turns it into drinking water.
The Bear Lake trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park sits at a tidy 9,450 ft. elevation. It is a popular trailhead both summer and winter. Though I’ve snowshoed this trail before, I didn’t realize it was so popular for backcountry skiers, until last weekend.
The trail begins as a gentle walk and it doesn’t take long for it to get steep. With the recent snow and wind, the trail was off-camber and was challenging in a few areas. There were some perfectly flat areas, three to be exact – frozen Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake. Below is a photo of Scott Ellis with Hallett Peak behind his right shoulder. (I think just before we crossed Dream Lake.)
I forgot to mention that when we left the town of Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, the temperature was a blazing 4 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t remember what the temperature was when we left the Bear Lake parking lot, but don’t let the sunshine deceive you. Sun or no sun, the wind was whipping and it was cold.
Below is a great shot of the snowshoe trail barely visible through the wind.
I don’t have any shots of crossing Emerald Lake, which I admit creeped me out. I don’t really like the thought of crossing a lake on showshoes with winter clothes on. Below are links to photos taken by other people that give you a seasonal perspective of the Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak:
Notice the rockslide area above the lake on the Novak photo. In winter, that area is captured up close and personal in the photo below. The person closest to you, in the middle of the photo, is Rob Klingensmith. He hiked up through deeply drifted snow to capture photos of skiers. You can see the tiny figures hiking up the mountain in front of Rob. They are using “skins” on backcountry skis to hike uphill. They remove the skins at the top of the hill and ski down. They are tough to see, but there are the ski tracks coming toward Rob, near dead center of the photo. Barely visible in this photo, to the left of those tracks, are more tracks originating higher up the mountain.
My first mountain bike race, and first stage race, was August 31 of 1997. It is easy for me to remember the exact date because I recall lying on the floor of a hotel room wishing my legs felt better. I was having another slice of humble pie, when the television broadcast was interrupted to let us know that Princess Diana had been in a horrible accident. The race was the King of the Rockies stage race in Winter Park, Colorado.
I remember I wanted to do a multi-day race and when I looked through the available races, the Winter Park event was the one that fit best. I had raced several triathlons that season and had solid tri fitness. I was riding a hard tail mountain bike with cantilever brakes. I had prepared for the race by riding local trails near my house. On home turf, I could average about 13 miles per hour when I was pushing pretty hard. I figured the Tipperary Creek point-to-point stage, stage one, would take me a couple of hours to complete.
I remember starting on a two-track road with a good amount of climbing right at the start of the race. Racing with beginner women, I was picking off rabbits and feeling pretty full of it. It seemed that my threshold training from triathlon was serving me well.
Once at the top of the climb, I remember a long descent through what seemed like a river of loose shale. Looking down the hill was a garage sale load of pumps, bottles, jackets, arm warmers and other miscellaneous items that the riders before me lost. While I was busy death-gripping my handlebars and trying to keep my teeth from chattering out of my mouth, all the people I passed on the climb were flying by me with ease. Dang.
After that descent, I remember a lot of really sweet singletrack. I decided not to worry about where I was in the field (I was pretty sure I was close to last, if not last) and just focus on keeping the rubber side down.
I didnt have a cyclometer on that bike, but I was watching the ride time on my watch. I was just under two hours and figured I had around 15 or 20 minutes to go before crossing the finish line (averaging that magical 13 mph). I checked my water bottle and it was close to empty. Not to worry, I'm almost finished.
Rounding the corner I saw a woman at what appeared to be an aid station. I was riding fast though there when I shouted, How much further to the finish?
Oh honey, youre only half way.
Wooooaaaaaaaah as I grabbed a lot of brake. Guess I should fill that water bottle or hydration pack, eh? And, Ill take a slice of that humble pie.
I immediately released any notion of finishing around two hours. Good thing, because I finally finished in 3:30. When I crossed the finish line, my husband was there and the first thing he said was, Are you alright? Where have you been?
I knew that translated to, You told me youd be here an hour-and-a-half ago and you look wrecked, what happened?
After I got cleaned up, we went to dinner. I tried to eat, but could barely get anything down. My legs were beginning to seize up. We went back to the hotel room and I tried to do some self-massage to get my legs to recover more quickly, but I really couldnt touch them they were so sore. Ill have more humble pie, thanks.
I remember lying in bed thinking that I couldnt have anything, including a sheet, touch my legs because they hurt so bad.
After not sleeping the entire night, I told Del that I might not be able to race stage two; mostly because I wasnt sure I could get on the bike. Secondly, I wasnt sure I could pedal. Seriously, my legs hurt that bad.
I decided to just ride a bit of the race and if I felt bad after 20 or 30 minutes, Id just turn around and descend when the course was clear. By this time, Im packing several slices of humble pie with me. They were heavy.
Once I started riding, I felt okay. Not great, but okay. The longer I rode, the better I felt. Wow, thats weird. I never did feel great, but I felt good enough to finish the stage. I felt better at the end of the stage than I did at the beginning. Interesting
That race was the beginning of my addiction for mountain bike riding.
It has been 12 years since that event and I have kept the Tipperary Creek race on my radar all this time, hoping one day to go back. The route is no longer part of a weekend stage race, but it remains the last race of their summer series.
In the past, one thing or another kept me from racing again. This year, after some encouragement from Bill Frielingsdorf, a pre-ride with Scott Ellis and an available calendar, I decided to do that event again.
The only expectation I have this time is to enjoy the course, the mountain bike fitness, and skills Ive accumulated since 1997. A bit of that humble pie remains in my pocket, likely never to be fully removed.
A group of us are heading to Moab, Utah for some spring mountain bike riding. For the last two years, we have timed the trip perfectly with a spring storm. Last year we had snow from Frisco to Eagle Colorado. The worst part of the drive was from Frisco to Copper Mountain. Just outside of Copper, it seemed to get better.
Predicting weather in Colorado is, apparently, tricky business. For as long as I've lived here (forever), forecasters can try to use various weather models to predict how the storm will set up, but in some cases (like this storm) how much snow we get or don't get is a matter of degrees, literally.
Just a few degrees colder combined with the proper centering of the storm and we will have a doozey of a spring storm. This means up to a foot of snow for the eastern Front Range, where I live, and two or more feet of snow in the mountains. We drive from Northern Colorado via I-25 to I-70 westbound.
You can take a look at the current conditions via the Colorado Department of Transportation camera system. The northern most camera at I25 and Del Camino is closest to my home. As of 9:22 am today, it showed rain. Simultaneously, the camera at I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel (move your curser along the westbound I-70 to see the camera titles) shows several inches of snow on the ground, but the road appears to be just wet and not snow-covered. This camera is about a 1:45 drive from where I live.
Just a few miles west of the Eisenhower Tunnel is Copper Mountain and then Vail. Copper is looking good now, but both sides of Vail Pass are snowy.
Watch what happens with the weather system in the next 24 hours and I'll keep you posted...
UPDATE: Friday, April 17
Here's a pic of the view just outside of Denver!
Yet looking toward Beaver Creek there are dry roads. As usual, the show is east of the Continental Divide:
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