Thursday, November 30, 2006

But its a dry chill

I've said numerous times how even though the temps in Colorado during the winter months are lower than those in Oklahoma, that the Colorado cold just didn't seem as bad. Well that was a bunch of crap, because this morning was damn cold. I don't know the exact low temp that we reached, but I think it was around -5 deg.

Of course today would be the day that my bus would be 10 minutes late...I stood shivering at the Niwot Rd Park & Ride staring down 287 hoping to see my bus coming. It was bitter cold, regardless how low the humidity numbers actually were. I stood there wondering how a homeless person could make it through the night when I was pretty convinced that if someone were to hit my ear it would shatter instantly. I've skied in colder temps with brutal winds, but business casual clothes just don't seem to have the same wind and cold stopping abilities as my ski clothes.

I can't wait till my normal bus driver gets back, this marks the 2nd day in a row for the bus to be considerably late. Yesterday the amateur replacement driver took us onto I-25 and all its gridlock instead of going the normal route of 287 to 36. Today the driver was 10 minutes late and tried to take the wrong route several times only to be corrected by several regular riders each time. Yesterday I was an hour later than normal, today 15 minutes. Still beats the heck out of driving myself though. I mean really, what do I care? It just ups my total nap time when the bus drivers don't have a clue.

The one highlight of the past two days was getting to go eat some very good pizza yesterday at Beniamino's. My coworker Tim, who is without a doubt "The Czar of the Pizza", took us down there for lunch. This was a true Chicago-style pizza that was about 3 inches thick and literally oozing with cheese. I had two slices and was done. I probably could have done 3, but fearing the scale on my weekly weigh-in on Sunday I thought better of it. The bad part is that now that I know how good it is, its gonna be hard to pass up the opportunity to eat there again and "The Czar" makes a weekly trip that direction. I think I better up the training program by about 3 hours a week...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lots to be thankful for

A big weekend packed with food, family and sporting events. My parents flew in for the weekend and my sister cooked up an impressive spread for the big dinner. We took in a lot of sporting events, some with good outcomes and some with the bad guys winning. While not the typical on the go weekend we usually find ourselves submersed in, but it was quite nice to have a relaxing time with the family.

When you get down to it, Thanksgiving is for eating too much, being thankful for all the great things in your life and lounging around with friends like Yack & Sarah's dog Dora...

Or Sarah and her other pooch Mia

Or Molly and her latest favorite toy

And despite the binge-fest, I did the impossible. I somehow lost weight despite my best efforts to do just the contrary. Not a lot of weight, 1 measly pound, but progress is progress. I was off my training program for 3 days, but I was due for a couple days rest anyway. I got back on the trainer for a couple hours tonight, and I'm going to be doing that routine quite a bit in the upcoming week. Now the next step is to alter my lunch diets to stop taking in so many calories and the poundage should start falling off even more quickly.

Before the trainer session, Jill and I took the dogs out for a quick hike at Lion's Gulch. We didn't get started until 2:30, so we weren't going to get too far, but the dogs got to expend some energy and play around which made them quite happy. Grabbed a couple pics from our outing...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What a day for a ride

The rumor started getting around yesterday that the powers that be might let all the worker bees head off for their Thanksgiving a bit early. Nothing real solid, but hope was all the motivation I needed to be prepared. So last night I loaded up my bike bag with all my gear and pulled Betty up from the basement bullpen.

It didn't take long after getting to work to get the official word, noon would be the end of the work day for us. Score. I had an inside lead on a group ride on a new trail between Golden and Idaho Springs above Clear Creek Canyon. A 12 mile loop with a hearty 2000 or so feet of elevation gain sounded right up my alley. Today would be my first chance to "measure up" to the pain that John "The Punisher" Perry would undoubtedly dish out in abundance. I've been steadfastly training for 4 or 5 weeks, but that is but a drop in the bucket compared to The Punisher's base training.

Under blue skies and 70 degree temps, a group of 4 of us met up in Golden to pound out some miles of singletrack. The normal routine of everyone jockeying for being the slow guy played out as normal with all of us telling the rest that they were without a doubt faster than we were.

Unload and hit the trail, and just as fast as that happened the race was on. The Punisher pushed the pace and quickly he and I were off the front. Since it was a downhill it wasn't that shocking that I was up front, but the ride quickly turned to a climb and it was time to see how things were going to go. This was my 5th straight day to ride, and 3rd "hard" day in that span. The Punisher doesn't care, and neither do the climbs. Much to my surprise, I'm middle-ringing it up the climb behind the Punisher and hanging tough.

The trail is fast and flowy with nothing really technical, but its fun and you can't argue with being out on such a great day. The downhills went quick and the climbs came suddenly, but as the miles clicked off I still had The Punisher in my sights. I'm sure he had a lot left in the tank, and I surely didn't, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

The Punisher and I had separated ourselves off the front, and the battle was just between us. About 1/2 way through the 12 mile route, I had to abandon my hopes of not needing the granny gear, and dropped into the 22 tooth for some recovery as I chase down The Punisher. The bad news is that my heart rate is sky high, but the good news is that I am recovering while spinning away but I'm keeping in contact with him.

John smiling that the climbing is almost over. For now...

As the ride pushed through the final stages, The Punisher put some time into me but nothing nearly as significant as our previous rides. Huh....Training does work. Its a good feeling to know I'm progressing with my fitness, but its a long winter and I've got a lot of work to do.

The first of many, many switchbacks

The group poses as the sun sets on our ride

The ups and downs

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town...

I love Thanksgiving dinner, a time to eat and embrace the fact your pants no longer fit. In the last 7 days I've had 3 turkey and dressing filled meals, including two on Saturday evening. We had a huge feed at John & Amy Perry's place on Saturday around 5:30pm, then headed down the Diagonal for another feed at Scott & Kim Turner's place in Boulder. Granted the second meal was more of a sampling since we were completely stuffed from our last meal just 2 hours ago, but I still managed to have some turkey regardless. The real coo was getting lots of turkey from the Perry Thanksgiving and then scoring a huge dish of stuffing from the Turner's dinner. Now if only I had scheduled another on Sunday where I could have grabbed some mashed potatoes...

Despite my efforts to propel my weight into uncharted territory, I actually dropped a couple pounds this week. I've been very regimented in my training schedule, only breaking the routine once in the last couple weeks and that was to try Jill's "core" excercise routine that she does. Well lets just say that wasn't so pretty...I looked like a 5th grader trying to play in the NBA. While I never really got short of breath from the excercise, my brain started overheating from trying to keep up and follow the overly cheery instructor. We'll just say that the core training wasn't exactly for me.

With the great weather this weekend, I broke the monotony of the trainer and headed out onto the open road both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I took Ruby (the name Jill & I have given to my Specialized Roubaix) out on a 25 mile ride towards Lyons. A nice easy loop with a few rolling hills, but nothing too taxing. An easy Zone 2 spin for 1.5 hours through the countryside between Longmont and Lyons.

Heart Rate And Elevation for Saturday's Ride

Sunday I jumped at the chance to get Betty the Yeti (both my bikes were recently anointed with names) out of hibernation for a easy spin on the Teller Lake trails between Longmont and Boulder.

One of my Dad's favorite expressions is "Never bring a knife to a gun fight". Well bringing my 6" travel Yeti to Teller Lake was like bringing a bazooka to that knife fight. Teller Lake has nothing at all even remotely technical, and we saw more cyclocross bikes than full suspensions, but with the fork in 110mm mode and the RP3 in firm mode Betty rockets through the smooth stuff pretty well for a chunky girl.

Of course not satisfied with the ridiculous physical advantage or 50 less pounds, The Punisher broke out his Stumpjumper hardtail instead of his dual suspension Maverick just to make me hurt a little more. We actually took it very easy, never really pushing above 60% till the final climb to the car. We actually had a woman gap up to us then proceed to hammer by us on the climb, but we just let her go. I doubt John has the experience to get passed on climbs much, let alone by a woman, so I was glad to allow him to experience life as a slow climber.

Heart Rate & Elevation from Sunday's Ride

Short week at work, and great weather. I'm guessing that for the next three days my body will be at 1515 Arapahoe, but my mind might be somewhere in the foothills ripping down some singletrack. Rumor has it we might be outta here early on Wednesday, and if that happens I'll definitely be finding my way to a dirt trail somewhere.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What are you up against?

It seems that all the Boulder County cyclists have gone from competition mode to rest and now are ramping back up. While I haven't been in competition mode by any stretch, but 3 weeks deep into my base work for the 2007 season I feel like its an uphill battle trying to manage my time. I commented on Pivvay's Blog recently about how I couldn't imagine how he had enough time/energy/etc to do all the training he does. I think it comes down to perspective, and that we all play the hand we are dealt the best we can.

This week my friend and ex-coworker Jake lost his father suddenly, and I have been impressed and amazed at how he has handled the situation. I wondered if I could be as strong and collected, but I think we all rise to the occasion when we are required to do so.

Reading about Boulder Pro Nick Martin embarking on the early stages of 400 Hours of base preparation sounded impossible to me. But then at the end of the post, I clicked through on a link that puts everything into perspective. Real perspective about what the human spirit is really capable of when it needs to be.

So take the time and click through to this link and read an article about a father's love and dedication to his son.
Read the story and watch the video

Monday, November 13, 2006

Off the snide, on the wagon

Well my attempt at owning the most futile Fantasy Football in history came to an end this week as I finally managed to not coach myself out of a win. A dominating victory of Weber's pathetic team of Tracy's left overs leaves me at 1-9 for the season. I have no realistic chance of salvaging my season this late, but 1 win is a much better fate than winless. My stumbles started pre-draft as I kept Kurt Warner and Drew Bledsoe as two of my three "keepers" from last year, both who have now been benched by their respective team. My last keeper? Landanian Tomlinson, the best back in the league, but who was about 40% of my budget. He had underperformed, so I traded him for some up and coming players and he has now scored something like 15 TDs in his last 5 games since the trade. Such is my season, but at least I've come to grips with it, and strangely enough I've enjoyed this pathetic team much more than any of my winning seasons.

And as the winter cold and darkness creeps in rather rapidly, I've gotten back on the exercise wagon. I've decided I'm going to try and do a endurance mountain bike event next year, maybe the Laramie Enduro or something similar. More of a "I am happy to finish this" event than a race, it looks grueling and fun at the same time. I've started my base training, spinning away for hours on my trainer, hoping to build a solid base that I can keep working on during ski season. With so much good food (and new to me) around my new office and Turkey Day fast approaching, I've got to get a move on or I'll be the other side of 2 bills in a hurry.

Saturday, after taking the dogs on a much needed outing to Lion's Gulch (elevation chart above), I spun an eas ride over to Lyons and back. A bit brisk out on the road, but I got in a 25ish mile ride in just over 1:35. It felt good to be actually moving instead of sitting still with the monotonous hum of the trainer echoing through the living room. I'll get plenty of trainer hours in this winter, so any reasonable chance to get out I have to take. I ramp up a bit this week, before a slight taper off into Thanksgiving. The highlight will be a short (5 mile) Time Trial on Friday the 24th that will be my first benchmark. I live for Time Trials, so I can't wait...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

US Grand Prix of Cyclocross - Round 4

The Grand Prix of Cyclocross moved down the Diagonal Highway overnight to Boulder, but despite the location change the gorgeous weather continued. I had thought I might ride with John "The Punisher" Perry on our road bikes to the Boulder event, but despite his super hero powers on the bike John was nursing a back injury and thought it best if he didn't ride. I gave thought to going solo, but then thought better of it so I wouldn't be riding home in the dark. So I just hopped in with John & Amy and we went to see what would be the most exciting bike race I've ever seen.

We showed up to watch the Elite Women and then the Elite Men's races, both of which would have some heroic performances. The women's race was a two woman show, with the US National cyclocross champ battling it out with the Canadian National cyclocross champ. These two would trade shots, each making moves with the other reacting to each move. The gorgeous sunny day briefly got uncharacteristically windy in the Boulder valley, so catching a draft was a big issue.

Late in the race Katie Compton put the hammer down and snapped Lyne Bessette off her wheel once and for all. Compton (pictured below) had put in a big effort yesterday in winning the previous round, but found something left in the tank today.

Bessette (pictured below) settled into a comfortable second place with Georgia Gould rounding out the podium.

The Elite Men's race was the big event, and it certainly lived up to the hype. Round 3 saw Ryan Trebon ride off the front and destroy the field, but today was a different day. Round 3's course was wide with lots of passing room, but the Boulder course was a much tighter venue. Getting off the line in a good position would be crucial.

The gun goes off, and the big dogs get out front. Trebon, Todd Wells, Jonathan Baker, and Trebon's Kona teammate Barry Wicks all got off quickly and the race was on. Wells and Baker got out front and started putting some distance into Trebon while they could. Wicks was doing team duty and sitting on the wheel until Trebon could bridge the gap, which wouldn't take long.

Todd Wells leads Jonathan Baker through the sand pit

It didn't take Trebon long to get up to the leaders, and the race was on from that point. Despite his solo break yesterday, Trebon looked strong, storming up the hills and making up ground on the flats.

Ryan Trebon leads Todd Wells through the treacherous sand

Wells leads with Trebon chasing

Wells pushed the pace with Trebon and Tim Johnson coming up through the pack to get on as Wicks fell off the big pace on the front after helping Trebon bridge up to the lead pack. The trio pounded out fast laps up front, before the first big development as Trebon hit the pits with a mechanical problem. Even though the bike switch was very fast, Trebon had lost contact with the leaders.

Wells and Johnson attack with Trebon having mechanical problems

This was the break that Wells and Johnson needed and the upped the pace. Wells and Baker hammered as they put time into Trebon. Trebon's teammate, Wicks, took team orders and started hammering to try and mark the lead duo. Wicks made quick work of the gap and in true team ordered fashion sat on the wheel of the two leaders, marking their movements.

Trebon's troubles weren't over yet, as he hit the pits again swapping bikes yet again. After the 2nd bike switch, he was nearly 45 seconds behind the charging trio up front. Trebon looked dejected and at times ragged, a side that he had not shown up to this point. In fact, I had a close encounter with Trebon (as seen in the pic below) as he pushed wide in a corner and nearly made contact with me.

Nice to meet you Mr. Trebon

Inexplicably, after the 2nd bike change and with the laps winding down, Trebon started charging. Being 45 seconds down with just a handful of laps to go, his attempts looked futile but I assumed he was just trying to do damage control. Quickly dropping Geoff Kabush, Trebon charged towards the front noticeably bringing the gap down each lap.

With 1 lap to go, Trebon had cut the gap down to 10 seconds and he was closing fast. Up front, Wells was pacing the group with Johnson struggling to hang on and Wicks just sitting on the wheel. As the group entered the sand pit area for the final time, Wicks charged in front of Wells undoubtedly to try and slow up the group to allow the hard charging Trebon to make up the 5 seconds he now found himself down.

Wicks jumps ahead of Wells, but Wells gets him back

Wells responded back, and pushed to the lead. Johnson, while still in contact, was clearly just hanging on at this point. Trebon frantically hammered, getting out of the saddle but still sitting 3-4 seconds back. As the leader trio hit the final 200m pavement stretch, Wicks jumped out of the saddle with a quick and hard acceleration broke the other two as Trebon realized his all out efforts would fall just a bit short. Wicks sprinted to the win as Wells and Johnson rounded out the podium. Trebon rolled across the line seconds later, his win streak snapped, but still leads the overall series.

US Grand Prix of Cyclocross - Round 3

The big show hit Longmont on Saturday, as the national championship series of cyclocross hit Longmont on the Xilinx campus. I figured I should go check it out, as Boulder County alone has enough pro talent to make for an entertaining race. Rumors had been swirling about the various pro riders that would be showing up, and the rumors all turned out to be true.

The two most notable names were American Tour de France riders Chris Horner and "Fast" Freddy Rodriguez. These two guys are Elite roadies who have both put in impressive showings in le Tour, so when I tell you they were not factors in the race that should give you some idea about the level of competition yesterday.

For you non-cyclist readers of the blog, cyclocross is a combination of road biking and mountain biking. The bikes look like burly road bikes with skinny tires that have tread on them. The courses are usually a combination of pavement and dirt with mandatory obstacles where riders dismount and carry their bikes over before remounting and continuing on.

Ryan Trebon (pictured below) came into this round having the #1 plate and has won the first two rounds. As the gun went off, he was with the lead group and wasted no time in riding off the front. A pack of riders grouped up to run him down, but it wasn't going to happen today as he was just too strong. He was putting big time into the chase group in the 3-6 laps and then cruised for the last couple.

I was very impressed with the turnout, crowd support and how professional everything was run. This was the big show, and I was glad to have been able to catch it so close to home. The other impressive thing was how fast these guys move. They were at a near all out sprint for an hour straight, on a difficult course that saw a lot of crashes. In fact, I was shooting pics and almost got taken out but a fatigued racer who lost the front wheel and started sliding towards me. Luckily for me, my reflexes were faster than his at that point and I managed to escape unscathed.

Here are a couple more pics from Saturday's event...

Geoff Kabush on his incredibly sweet Van Dessel cross bike

A Giant rider pushes hard to get back in contact with the leaders

3 riders battling it out in the late stages of the race

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Pearl St Crawl

Friday night is for dinner and drinks with friends. Last night we ratcheted that up a bit last night. Jill put out the call for a Happy Hour, and it was on from that point. Our group would start with Jill, Sarah, Scott & Kim Turner and myself meeting up at West End Tavern.

Our visit to West End Tavern was quite brief. They wouldn't let us have a table (even though they had about 10 open tables) since we were just having drinks and appetizers. They wanted us to move to the bar area. Uh...OK, whatever. We went to the bar area, but the heaters were cooking us so we moved on to a place that seemed to want our business more.

Bacarro was right across the street, and new to me so we stopped in there. We got settled upstairs on the balcony, grabbed a round and then set sail again. 2 establishments, 30 minutes and we were just getting started.

Brief walk to Rhumba, a cool looking always busy place with lots of action. We grabbed a table, some appetizers and a couple drinks. We lasted about an hour or so at Rhumba, and our crowd grew as we picked up some law school buddies of Scott's.

Another 1/2 block walk and we were at place #3, a local Mexican dive called Juanitas. I've been there many times, kind of the greasy spoon Mexican place in town where the slogan is "Praise the Lard". We grabbed a couple tables and some beers & margaritas. Just like always, I ate at every single place we stopped, grabbing a chicken soft taco and even more chips and salsa here.

The fourth stop in our 5 hour tour of Pearl Street would be the Pearl St Pub, which is a dark, cozy little place that feels somewhat out of place on the commercialized Pearl St Mall.

We didn't make it too long here before here before heading off to Pizza Calore, where we grabbed a couple slices of pizza and then headed for the house about 10pm. The young law school kids (early 20s) kept going, but us old folks were tired and ready for bed.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Catching My Breath...

Its been a hectic week or so since getting back from Oklahoma. I started my new job at MarkWest, we had a big snowstorm where we lost part of a tree, and I’m a veteran bus rider now among other things.

First things first, the new job…
Things are going very well, although my first 2 weeks are nothing like any other first weeks at any previous job. I have been busy since walking in the door, which is a good thing really. Since MarkWest uses RightAngle, I came in knowing a lot and its just filling in the server and database names. I’m quite pleased with how quickly the RightAngle stuff came back to me, but I guess when you cut your teeth on a system it sticks with you.

All in all the job switch seems to be a huge step in the right direction for me. Everything has worked out perfectly thus far. People at MarkWest are all very nice, and it seems to be a really talented staff which is always nice to be a part of.

Perhaps the strangest part of it all is that I also find that I seem to really enjoy working on the 16th St Mall here in Denver too. I never realized that I liked the downtown working environment until I wasn’t working downtown anymore. In Tulsa I always worked downtown, then in Boulder our office was off the Pearl St. Mall. When we moved to Louisville the commute got much better, but I realized how boring it was when nothing happened in our Tech. Park. So now I’m back to a downtown office with lots of good eating and things always moving.

The bus, AKA the Snooze Cruise…
I absolutely love this bus riding stuff. I hop on the bus about 2-3 miles from my house, and pretty much immediately fall asleep and 40 minutes later I’m in downtown Denver about 2 blocks from my office. I can leave my house at 6:30 and be at my desk by 7:30 and grab an extra 45 minutes of sleep on the way. The Denver area mass-transit system really works well, and the comfy, nice buses make me wonder why I ever drove myself to work before.

The best example was on the big snow day last Thursday, when all the other daily gunners were 10 & 2’ing it down the road worrying about the road and the guy next to them in the 4x4 SUV speeding by at high speeds. Me? I just put the Ipod on, leaned the chair back and woke up as the bus hit LoDo.

My rush hour is the rush to get asleep before the bus pulls out of the depot…

The rest…
Other than the big job switch and my new found love affair with the bus, not too much happening these days.

The time switch has me pretty much riding the trainer at nights, trying to stay in shape for the nice weekend days.

Ski season starts this weekend, although I won’t be there for another couple weeks.

This weekend is a big cyclocross race, as the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross (basically road bikes with treaded tires) hits Longmont & Boulder on Sat & Sun. I’ll likely ride my Roubaix over and check out the action as a bundle of fast riders should be here for the Elite divisions.