Monday, December 24, 2007

Tis the Season for Completely Changing One's Mind

I'm not moving to Santa Cruz.

There, I've said it. By now this isn't news to most. Nor is my reason for the sweeping change of heart. Something went off in my head. It sort of felt like it built up, but it wasn't until one nearly sleepless night of my mind racing until 2am that the solution came to me.

I know Tim told me that I should live my own life and stop trying to make everyone else happy. I know Simon-and even my own sister- told me that I should go West. But it was the combination of Tori reminding me that unless there really is some huge tectonic shift, California isn't going anywhere, and the Double Fisker reminding me that family is only around for so long that really got this thought rollercoaster started.

So, New Hampshire it is.

I'm happy with the decision. I'm still not happy with all the things I know I'm going to miss about the West. Things that are both work related and personal. No more are my 'stop the car and ride in Fruita and St. George on my way to SoCal' rides. Gone are the consecutive days of riding over to take pictures of surfers in Santa Cruz, followed by delicious meals at the Bontrager house. Seeing the purple mountains majesties in the distance as I drive back to Colorado are at an end. Driving on the straightest roads ever across miles of barren desert are a thing of the past. Don't even get me started on turning my back on dry air in favor of mosquitos and humidity.

But, being in the same town as my sister and driving distance away from my parents seems to me to be worth the trade. I've always said that if I had to live in the East again, it would only be somewhere in New England. The landscape might be smaller than the towering treeless Rocky tops, but New Hampshire is still a year-round recreation spot.

I've been reminded that I'm not just moving away from something. I'm also moving towards many things. I am excited. I'm still dreading the faff that I'm going to have to go through to physically make the move, but the end result is going to be more time with people who really do love me despite my weird quirkiness.

Happy Chrismahanakwanzika to everyone. May whatever holiday you celebrate be full of joy and merriment.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

On The Fence

Bit of a gap between posts, but that's primarily due to the fact that since I've been with the fam the last few weeks I've mostly just been taking it easy.

And speaking of being around the fam, herein lies the thing that has given me a reason to post. What usually happens when I spend any amount of time with my sister in New Hampshire, is that I start thinking about how easy it would be to live around here. I've always said that if I had to live in the East again, it would only be up here. The lifestyle compliments me, and it's not the usual het up rat race that is the norm in the Northeast. I guess there's an imaginary line that exists somewhere between New York City and here above which things have different significance in life. Hmm...Perhaps it's not an imaginary line at all, but rather the State line of Massachusetts and every State north of it.

Factor in my parents. They aren't getting any younger, and I do regularly wish I were nearer to them. I'm the only one in my entire family that lives as far West as I do. The next relative that has any great span between themselves and the rest of the family is my cousin who lives in Florida. Everyone else is concentrated between Ohio and New Jersey.

So I sit here and start second guessing whether or not I've made the right choice in going even Westerer than I current am. Every time I'm in California, particularly Santa Cruz, it seems like absolute bliss. I guess I've always harbored some dream about living in California. It's always had this mystique about it, and I've felt like I've missed out on something by not having lived there. I always wondered what it must have been like to grow up there. Maybe my hair would turn blonde by association.

Now I'm here and the perfection that I was looking forward to has been replaced by a malaise over the thought of leaving. I don't like being so far from everyone. I've thought for some time now that a move back East is an eventuality for me. It doesn't seem like any of my family is going west any time soon.

The position to do what I do in the Northeast is open. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't given serious consideration to calling my boss and telling her that I've had a drastic change of heart, and I want to stay here. If only Ohio weren't included in the mix! Terrible drivers in Ohio.

As tempting as it is, I think I would wind up making several people very cranky with me. They would all be friends, and I'm not very interested in losing them. I've made commitments regarding this move and the associated work effort that would not do me well to back out on. I think the best thing to do is to carry on as planned and re-evaluate things this time next year, when I will inevitably be back in New Hampshire for quite some time.

This is one of those times when I wish someone with perfect clarity and the ability to examine a situation from all angles and all possible outcomes would just say "You need to do this". That would be easy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coughing is fitness leaving the body

It's warm. It's cold. It's warm. It's cold again. The weather can't seem to make up its mind. Despite this, I've managed to get out on some rides, and shoot some pictures. Independent of each other, that is. I'm still suffering from two things:

1) Having my legs crap out after about 20 miles on the road leaving me feeling as if I'd just done 40 miles uphill.
B) I still don't really know what I'm doing with a camera.

That being said, it's been nice to be back on the bike after keeping myself off it for several days in the (vain) hopes that my cough would subside. It's also been a great deal of fun taking bad pictures, particularly in light of the fact that the full moon night and the night after provided some absolutely amazing moonrises here. There is something to be said for being on the East Coast and getting to watch the moon come up. If I were a halfway decent photographer, I'd know how to take good pictures of it as it peaks over the horizon. As it stands, this was the best I could do after isolating the moon and dropping the exposure during post-processing:

Anyhoo...I woke up to another warmer and windy day today, and just didn't have it in me to fight the inevitable 360 degree headwinds on a road ride, so I went off to Belleplain State Forest to see what sort of epic flatness I might find in the woods. I managed to get myself lost trying to take a shortcut when I hit a road. The problem was that the road led me to an intersection that always trips me up. I know vaguely where both roads at the junction go, but I'll be damned if I know where they go from that particular spot. So, rather than go left to what I'm sure was probably only 3/4 of a mile back to the trail, I doubled back the 2 or so miles to the trail that spat me out in the first place. Three hours after leaving the car, I got back to it. So much for a nice hour and a half!

Oh well, as Simon pointed out that's the longest ride I've done since I got sick. And since riding is great (as are sheep), I can't really complain.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

We're not at 5340 feet anymore, Toto.

You know, I'm used to long days behind the wheel, but MAN did it seem like it took FOREVER to get back to New Jersey this time. Three solid days of 600 miles and then some. I picked up this southerly cross wind right out my front door, and it came with me all the way to the east coast. The sad thing was that it carried with it abnormally warm temperatures, so for 3 days I sat inside the Touareg while outside the temperature hovered around 70 degrees. The same was true today, and of course the wind was blowing a front that promises to drop the temperature significantly. The high for tomorrow is only supposed to be in the 40's. At least I managed to get out for a ride over to the coast today.

It was nice to be riding after my self-imposed hiatus due to this cough. I was so tired of it waking me up in the middle of the night that last Thursday, while in Tucson, I took myself to the ER at 2:30 in the morning. That was a really fun 5 hour ordeal. They diagnosed me with a cough. Well! At least I got that sorted. The silver lining is that as of now I don't have bronchitis or pneumonia, so I supposed sitting in extremely uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room was worth it for peace of mind. Yet, I still have a cough.

We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner today. It was complete with the usual obnoxious laughter that always accompanies a Garrison family gathering. My sister and I swore that we were NOT going to talk politics with our brother, the redneck of the family. I thought one of us was going to crack when he made a snide comment about global warming, but we held firm and henceforth managed to avoid the usual fight that also accompanies a family get-together. All in all, it was a nice holiday.

I'm planning to oberve Buy Nothing Day on this, the busiest shopping day of the year. People go nuts. Stores open hours before they normally do. Five and 6 am are not out of the question, and they offer sales in the wee hours. People actually line up at the door to take advantage of the sale prices. It's pretty gross. I can't imagine why people actually want to go deal with the crowds. It's absolute pandemonium and an example of consumerism at it's apex. I can't believe that a day of shopping has become a new American tradition.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

33 Miles of Flat Pain

Rides seem like they are getting harder of late. The last 4 or 5 times I've been on the bike have been a struggle to do not very much distance. Before a recent outing, I was chatting with Simon and he asked me if I was feeling fresh. I'm having a hard time remembering the last time I did feel fresh on a ride. It's taking every ounce of energy I have to just get through 25 or 30 miles.

This morning's ride consisted of riding out to this little town called Hygiene to meet up with Alison, who had left for a 3 hour ride at 9am. I knew I didn't want to go that early because it has gotten quite cold here, and I wouldn't last the whole 3 hours given how I've been feeling on the bike lately. So, we compromised and met up an hour after I left the house for the last block of Alison's ride.

I left the house an hour before our planned meet up of 11. I figured I'd have time to spare to cover the 15 miles to the town. I got there a whopping 30 seconds before Al's arrival. When I asked her what time it was she said it was five after 11. I knew I was feeling bad on the way, but I had a hard time believing that I used an entire hour to go such a short distance. The road out is rolling, but not constantly uphill, and once I make the right hander off 36 it's almost entirely down a very slight grade to Hygiene. I told Al I wasn't sure how much use I'd be to her since I was feeling so rubbish. We set off towards home and reached a pace that was a bit faster than what I'd been doing on the way out, but I was feeling pretty comfortable. There are a couple of short bursts of up on the road we were on, and every one of them made me feel like my chest was going to pound it's way right out of my ribcage. Frustrating.

I understand that cold weather that has hit us like it has, without much lead time to prepare, can have adverse effects on the body. On Sunday it was 75 degrees. As I write this, the thermometer reads 35. I reckon it was about 40 on the ride today. Still, I hate how I can go from feeling pretty good, and can go out on rides with some degree of intensity, then without changing that pattern can feel completely crap.

I figure I'm going to have a nice Roly-like rug on the 'ole thorax at this rate.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Continuing Saga of the Dateless Wonder

Been a while since I did a 'pensive post'. Seems like spending yet another Friday night sat on the couch is as good a time as any.

So what's the deal with acceptance? Specifically, what is it about human nature...Ok, I won't make any blanket statement here, I'll narrow it down to my nature. So what it is with MY nature that leads to a desire to be accepted? Actually, that's sort of a broad generalization. I don't care about being accepted by everyone.

I think I'm having an identity crisis. It has to do with the company I work for and how it's generally regarded in the world of bike culture. It's not held in very high regard. It bothers me. I think the reason it is even on my mind is because I spent a short while in the limbo between the racer set and industry crowd: the journalist world.

Now I read things that other people write about the company I work for and I get this feeling that I'll be judged. I get the same feeling about people I met before I took this job that would now change their opinion of me based on their preconceived notions about the company at large.

I'm not entirely sure why I even care. Herein lies the internal conflict. I'm more than happy to be doing what I do. I genuinely like the people I work with. I understand that Trek, being the large bike company that it is, will probably never be 'worthy' of the Kool Kids Klub. I don't know why I have this desire to be part of the er, KKK. I guess that's the acceptance problem.

The truth is, I do care. That's just stupid. One of the main reasons I'm leaving Boulder is because people here aren't very welcoming. I don't know why it bothers me that similar, narrow-minded people making assumptions about the company I work for and the fact that I work there, would look at me with an air of disdain or thumb their noses at me. I do not want to be friends with people like that. What is my problem!?

Insecurity is the root, I'm sure. That old, nasty foe that I feel like I am constantly fighting. I'm working on it. And as it relates to this issue, I have some amazing friends. The best friends I've ever had in my lifetime are people I've met in the last 4 or 5 years. If they were the last people I became friends with, I'd be perfectly fine. I suppose having such limited time with them is part of why I have any hang ups about people I am merely acquainted with, or don't know at all. If I were secure enough, I'd be able to laugh it off. Outwardly, I really don't have any problem doing that.

Well, since my internet crashed last night and I could post this, I've had a night to sleep on it. I'm not sure I have any clarity this morning. I resolve to just be myself and not worry so much about what the peanut gallery thinks.

Now I'm going on a 'bonking ride'. Obviously, that has different connotations to some than it does over here (fanny pack?). I've just woken up, and now I'm going to ride for an hour on an empty stomach.

Better living through bike riding.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Someone's knockin' at the door.

7:20pm this evening, a random knock comes to the front door. I get up and am greeted by two women, one with a clipboard, who says 'We're here for Alison Powers'. I'm not exactly sure why I lost my ability to speak. I felt like I was in the presence of some authority and all I could do was turn around and yell upstairs to Alison that she had visitors. My senses came back to me and I turned back to the door and invited them in. At some point, I realized that I was looking at two people from the US Anti-Doping Agency, the governing body of cycling that does the random drug testing for athletes.

The women introduced themselves to Alison and gave a brief explanation for what was going to happen. Basically, they only collect the samples, but that's really an oversimplified version of what goes on.

There's a form that has some basic information. The agent put three styrofoam boxes on the table, and a bag with cups. She explained to Alison that she could choose any of the three boxes, and the reason there were three was to minimize the chance that anything had been tampered with beforehand. Everything had numbers and was recorded on the form. She then allowed her to choose a cup and to give it a close inspection, again to make sure that nothing was out of order. At that point, Alison and the agent went into the bathroom to collect the sample. Having someone watch you pee into a cup seems pretty demoralizing. I'm pretty sure no pro football player (on either side of the pond), has to endure that sort of thing.

When they returned, it was time to open the box. It was sealed with a piece of tape that leaves half of itself on the box when it's opened. Inside the box are the infamous A and B sample bottles. Both bottles were sealed with a shrink wrap. It was a bit strange to see them, knowing how much controversy has arisen as a result of the contents of bottles like that, and possible impropriety in their handling in the past.

Alison was told step by step what to do: Inspect the bottles to make sure they haven't been tampered with. Remove the shrink wrap. Remove the lids and check for these red rings around the mouth of the bottle. Pour from the cup into the A bottle about halfway up. Then reseal the bottle until the lid no longer clicks. Do the same with the B bottle. Turn each upside down to check for leaks. Place each bottle into an individual plastic bag and seal them with tape. Place both bottles back into the styrofoam box.

Next, the agent checked the pH and specific gravity of the urine. A sample that is too weak means that the lab won't be able to test it, and the agents have to take another sample. Same thing for the pH. Alison was fine with both.

The agent then asked a series of questions, including whether or not she'd had any recent blood transfusions, and what medications she'd taken in the last 3 days.

After that, she signed the form in a way that didn't reveal her name on any part of it that is sent to the lab. The whole process took about half an hour, mostly because the agent was very detailed in the explanations and steps. Alison gets her results in 6-8 weeks.

This was the first time that Alison has been tested by USADA (she was actually pretty pissed off that it hadn't happened already), but not the first time she'd been tested since she became a pro. She said the testing methods here are much more careful and thorough than in Europe, where agents handled samples and bottles and didn't document things as carefully by doing such things as labeling samples with names, instead of numbers. In her words 'it's pretty sketchy'. That doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), and casts an even larger shroud of doubt over the Euro labs that have ruined, and attempted to ruin, the careers of a lot of cyclists.

I'm sure there are dopers in the sport, and more than likely most of the big names are part of that crowd. It just seems to me that the testing protocol itself should be squeaky clean, and not something that can ever be questioned in terms of it's potential impact on results.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Time to get my Namaste on."

Good ride today. 2300 feet and a bit of climbing. It was a very headwindy ride, but that's the stuff that puts hair on your chest, right?

I've been maintaining a fairly regular ride schedule. Regular in the sense that I've spent many more days on the bike than off lately. I'm actually pretty worried about going back East for the holidays. It's going to be harder to make myself ride in cold weather. I guess I'll just suck it up and quit whinging.


So I've had this pretty big list of things that I really need to do in advance of my trip, and I've done next to none of it. I'm trying to avoid everything having to be done at once, but I work best and most efficiently when I'm under a time crunch. I'm my own worst enemy in that respect.

On a completely unrelated note, I haven't felt like I've had anything worthwhile to say for a while. I guess that's the way things are when there's very little drama happening.

Fruita Salad

Spontaneity is fun. My housemate Alison told me that she and her boyfriend were going to Fruita over the weekend. Fruita. I love going there. The trails are so much fun and seem to never get old no matter how many times you ride them. I didn't want to crash Alison's party, so I asked Fuller if he wanted to go with me. He was in desperate need of a getaway for bike riding, and it's been on the list of things we'd wanted to do for a very long time. Work pressures kept him from enjoying a lot of things, perhaps most significantly was spending time with his friends and riding. He's just resigned from what was sucking the life out of him, so I was very happy when he called on Friday and said he wanted to go.

No trip to Fruita is complete without a visit to the Hot Tomato to catch up with my ace pals Anne and Jen. They were kind enough to let us stay at their house, despite the fact that they were heading back my direction to go visit Tara Llanes, who is still in a Denver hospital after her horrible crash on September 1st that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Fuller and I got into town around noon on Saturday, and after a catch up lunch at the cafe, we headed out to do some laps around Rustler's Loop. The sun was going down, which is always the best time of day to ride that loop and stop to take in the scenery at one of the many Colorado River overlooks. We were even graced by the presence of a bobcat, which sat perched on a rock like a statue for what seemed like a very long time. The best part of the ride was watching Fuller relax and enjoy himself. Later on, we met up with Alison and Josh at Fiesta Guadalajara for some food and beverages. Watching a pro roadie get drunk in the off season is great fun.

More riding followed yesterday. We rode some of the 18 Road trails with Alison and Josh for a few hours before they headed back to the city. Fuller and I went back to the house and watched The Flying Scotsman. After a lazy morning today, we packed up and headed back to the front range.

Sorry Simon, I know I was supposed to take pictures but it just didn't happen. The air was even more hazy today.

Spending the weekend with Fuller, and seeing how much fun he was having (which was long overdue), reminds me how therapeutic bike riding can be. Hearing Jen and Anne talk about Tara's recovery, and the possibility that she may never ride an upright bike again all makes me wonder if I don't sometimes take bike riding for granted. It's not always just a fun activity. Sometimes it's restorative, and sometimes it has to be reinvented when life throws a curve.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Patron Saint of Quality Footwear

Today was a damn fine day. The weather outside in far from frightful. Lovely autum weather here. The temperature was probably 75 today and the sun was shining. The leaves that are still left on the trees are making things quite colorful. I got out for a ride today with the intention of doing some climbing. I realized that was going to be quite painful since I did yet another 'easy' ride with my housemate Allison, who swore it wouldn't be too bad since she's been off the bike for 3 weeks. Liar. So, I stuck to the rolling roads and still managed to hurt myself.

I played leap frog with this dude that I passed going up a short hill, only to have him bust a gut in order to get back in front of me a short while later. He turned down the same road I had planned, so I watched him put the hurt on himself further up the next short climb and out onto the flat. This guy was full on in the drops, elbows out and head down. I really felt bad for him. Meanwhile, I got up to a good cadence and a comfortable rhythm and slowly realed him in. Then I passed him again. I didn't change my pace, i just stayed steady. Then I got that 'feeling' that he was on my wheel. I had to look behind me a couple of miles down the road in order to go around a construction vehicle, and sure enough, there he was. I made a turn into the headwind at the next intersection, and he stayed there sucking my wheel until the next junction. I slowed down a hair hoping that he'd take a turn at the front, but all he did was pass, give me a look and sort of half a nod, then off he went leaving me out to dry in the wind. Nice. That's a real class act for you. Jerk.

Anyhoo, I finished out my ride having a chat with one of the pros from the HealthNet team. Nice bloke from Austrailia. Then I got home, had some lunch and a shower, and headed off to the grocery store. There's a liquor store next to the Safeway so I decided to pop in and buy some pumpkin ale, which is only available this time of year. I usually see what English ale's are available when I go into to a liquor store, in the hopes that I'll find one of my favorites.

And that's when it happened. I was so overcome with joy that I really don't have any words to describe it. It was a highlight of my day, nay! my year. I had to rub my eyes to make sure they weren't playing tricks on me. I had one of those proper heart skipping a beat moments and felt the ensuing adrenaline rush course through my body from head to toe. I know what it sounds like, and truth be told this was something resembling an orgasmic experience, I can't lie. I leave the rest to the picture:

That's right, it's THE beer, in my own kitchen! We're not in the UK anymore, Toto.


And to make things even better, This Is Spinal Tap is playing On Demand (the freeview movie thing from Communistcast). 'These go to eleven.'


Home Savory Home

I'm finally back in Boulder. What a whirlwind. Normally I'm ok with being on the road for long stretches, but in this rare case I was ready to get back. I was hoping to get home on Sunday night, but when the traction control kicked in while I was crossing a nearly-frozen overpass, I knew it wasn't going to get any better so I pulled over in Raton, NM, just shy of the New Mexico/Colorado State line. It was slightly disappointing since I had a high level of motivation to start tackling the list of things I need to get in order ahead of my trip back to Jersey/New Hampshire for the holidays, and in preparation for my move to Santa Cruz.

On my to do list:
-Sell my Element-this is a heartbreaking thought. I absolutely love that car. It's been good to me and I'll be very sad to see it go. I just don't use it enough, so it's time to say goodbye.
-Clean out my closet and get rid of clothes that have fallen into the "I haven't worn this for a year" category.
-Organize the garage
-Find a home for the old demo bikes that I still have
-Renew my passport so I can go back to the UK in February

And a list of loads of other small tasks.

I'm now watching CNN, which is showing a two part series entitled 'Planet in Peril'-subject matter is self-explanatory there. During commercial breaks, they are showing live coverage of the fires in SoCal. There are so many fires that 1 million people have been evacuated and over 400,000 acres have burned. So far. It doesn't seem to be letting up any.

Fingers crossed for all of my SoCal friends.

I leave you with this parting shot of Joe from the Yeti demo program, showing us a proper flask:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Durango Ghetto

Another example of how powerlines ruin a perfectly good shot.

You know what sucks about Moab? I'll tell you what sucks about Moab. What sucks about Moab is driving through it and not having time to stop and ride. That sucks.

I left Provo at 1pm today and blazed a trail up and over, across, and down to my eventual stopover point: Durango, CO. I knew Moab was on the path, but I wanted to get as far as I could before nightfall. I'm constantly paranoid about hitting a deer. But, just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean that all deer aren't out to get you. This was proven to me when I had a small heard of them dart across the road in front of me. Fortunately I was ready for them and managed to slow down and simultaneously honk at Bambi's.

One of the many spledid things about Utah, particularly the area around Moab:

And who needs to pay for a roadside billboard? Just paint some big ass letters on the nearest slab of rock:

Good thing I wasn't on the current devil's highway!

So, now I'm in Durango staying in a hotel that I'm pretty sure is next to the Durango projects. There was a dude in an all white track suit standing outside when I drove by the parking lot. I later walked out to the car and saw him out there again. I'm guessing he's dealing drugs. If you don't hear from me for a while, it could be a result of being next door to a crystal meth lab that pops the top.

Tonight I did something I haven't done in a very long time. I ate at Taco Bell. It's just outside the door, see, and I had all this change in my pocket and well they've got this value menu. Fear not, I did NOT have any meat products. A buck three-niner got me a bean and rice burrito. Even Taco Bell can't mess up opening a can of refried beans and rolling them with some rice in a tortilla.

Here are some things I've learned from this trip:
-Brent and Valene are among the most ace people I know. Thanks so much for your friendship and hospitality. I know it's not easy having people show up, spend a week in your house, and have their stuff explode all over the place. You provide a welcome relief from the routine of bouncing from one hotel to the next. I'm lucky to know you.
-Tori doesn't really have a black heart. I'm pretty sure that's physiologically impossible if someone is alive.
-I should never go watch shopping with Kris, unless I have a large cache of cash to spend.
-It really is possible to drive with a goat in a minivan, although the reasons are still unclear as to why one would care to do so.
-Utah is gorgeous.
-Bob Roll is only a little bit crazy, and really it's in a good way.
-The Comfort Inn in Durango is next to a den of scariness.

Tomorrow, on to Sante Fe.

Oh, and by the way, if you are posting comments anonymously, tell me who you are!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Parabola of Things to Come

Rainbows and black clouds were an indication that last night's ride might be a bit damp. Skipping to the end of the story, it was as wet as any ride I ever did in the UK. Proper downpour, complete with lightening and thunder. It was a hoot though! The rain may have soaked our group to the bone, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits. I'd forgotten how much fun night riding, even in the rain, could be. The only thing missing was the pub at the end, which are few and far between here in the heart of Mormon country.

Today we had an early morning demo. Seven in the morning, to be exact. It at least gave us a pretty cool sunrise to see, with the early morning light bouncing off the mental clouds hovering around the peaks. Of course, none of the shop guys that called yesterday to make sure we were going to be there at 7 actually showed up. It was cold, and things got worse when the mix of snow and hail occurred. The first person who came to ride didn't get there until 9. Good times on the demo scene. It's all glamour, after all. Ah well. Hanging out in a scenic parking lot in Utah is never really all that bad.

Then there was this little gem from our second demo of the day yesterday:

Guess the park didn't have to pay for that part of the concrete work.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Goat in the Minivan

So one little tidbit I neglected to mention from yesteryday:

We were JDA (Just Driving Along) when all of a sudden Tori proclaims 'Oh my God, that is a goat.' One glance up revealed what she was talking about. There was a man driving a Ford Windstar minivan with one of those pet keeper things behind the front seats that is meant to keep your pet in the back of the car. It wasn't a dog, or even an alpaca in the back, but a pristine white goat. Yes, a goat.

The man driving the van wasn't some flannel shirt wearing Utah redneck, but rather a man in a shirt and tie. The goat was clean as a whistle, but a bit skittish. As we rolled up next to the van the caprine had a bit of a meltdown and tried to run. It was unfortunately met with the other side of the van which caused it to sort of ricochet back to an upright stance.

I, of course, was without a handy camera to take a picture of this, so we slowed down to let him catch up to us while Dax grabbed my camera from my pack in the back of the car. Unfortunately, the man exited the highway and we were left with trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Some possible theories:

1) The man was on a date. With the goat.
2) It was a sacrificial goat.
3) The man was on his way to a date, and the goat was a present.

Any thoughts?

A side note: Chef Chris Cosentino won the challenge on last nights' "The Next Iron Chef". Way to go Chris!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Utah in the Fall

Brent mixing it up with the aspen trees

Today was a test of that fine line between epic and stupid. Brent, my Utah sales rep and all around ace guy, wanted to show a few of us his favorite trails. Payson Canyon was the location, and the starting elevation was 8000 feet. It rained pretty significantly yesterday, so we headed up the mountain unsure of the trail conditions. We hoped for the best, and unfortunately were met with the worst.

The mud we encountered wasn't simply mud, it was like riding in a cement mixer. The bikes became like rebar for freshly laid concrete foundations. Every once in a while we would come to a section of trail that made us think maybe the worst was behind us. We shed some of the mud from the tires and the bikes, and settled in for what promised to be an ace ride. Then we'd hit another section of the sticky, claggy paste. In the end, we rode for all of about 2.5 hours and covered a whopping 3 miles (maybe?).

We headed back to Brent's house where his wife Valene had made an absolutely stellar pot roast dinner complete with mashed potatoes AND mashed sweet potatoes! Nothing like some delicious stick to your ribs food after a tough day on the bike.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Sad Day for Mountain Biking

Shred in peace, Richard. Photo courtesy of Dan Barham

Richard Juryn was the kind of guy that you liked the moment you met him. His enthusiasm for life was infections, and he could brighten anyone's day with a simple hello. He was always genuinely glad to see people he knew. He died trying to save the lives of his friends.

His death is a tragic loss to the mountain bike world. I, for one, will miss him a great deal.

My deepest sympathy goes out to Jill and the kids.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Allez cuisine!

My friend Chris Cosentino is competing to be The Next Iron Chef on the Food Network. The first episode in the series was tonight, and he made it into the next round.

Chris is an avid cyclist, particularly of the singlespeed 29er ilk. I mentioned him back in 2005 on the now defunct Fit for Women blog during a visit. At the time, he was the only chef in the world sponsored by Red Bull.

Anyhoo, he's a top guy and I'm very excited for him.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Moving Like A Banana Slug

The internet is about as fast as I was on the bike today. I can now add Santa Cruz to the list of places where I am the slowest person to snap feet into pedals.

I went out for a beautiful ride with my friend Thanita (also of Dirt Rag, and recently-moved resident). We pedaled through town to make a couple of errandy stops along the way, then headed up the hill to the campus of UCSC to hit some trails there. We used the campus trail network to get up to the top of Wilder Ranch, enjoyed the amazing view of the other side of Monterey Bay for a bit, then headed back down into town. We stopped at 99 Bottles for a couple of pints and some Snackey Cakes, then back to the Bontrager house, which is where I now sit after a fresh shower and a bit of chocolate. Total ride time was somewhere between 3-4 hours.

I was just reminded that I went on a bit of shoe shopping frenzy in Vegas. Is four pairs of shoes too much for one day?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bushwhacking Death March

So, I find myself in Santa Cruz for a week. I was due to be in LA this weekend for a big, multi-day demo with our West Coast demo guy Matt, but the dealer cancelled. They didn't want to pay the permit fee to the park to have us there. Bollox. I was in Lost Wages for Interbike, and had a choice to make. I could either head home and then go back to Salt Lake for next weekend's Breast Cancer Awareness ride, or I could go to Santa Cruz and hang out at Chez Bontrager and do some really good riding to make up for a week off the bike at the tradeshow. Hmm...

I got together with Ferret/Fez/Ferrentino last night and found out that Maurice (of Dirt Rag Mag) was also in town. He mentioned that he might come here after Vegas as well. He was shacking up at Mike's for a night and after an evening out I was invited back to my future place of residence for some more comraderie, with the potential for some whisky drinking. The latter didn't happen since I got there late after gathering up my things and burying my head in the new issue of Decline as soon as I crossed the threshold of the house.

The plan was to get up and have breakfast down at Whale City Bakery, drop a car off and shuttle back up to the house. Mike had planned an outing on trails accessible from the top of the hill where he lives. I've done some of them, but others would be new to me. We'd ride for a bit, ending back at the dropped off car in time for a late lunch.

Riding in Santa Cruz is hard. There is a lot of really steep stuff, and I'm just not confident enough to ride most of it. There is no such thing as a flat ride here. Mike lives in Bonny Doon, which is 15 miles from the center of town up a very, very large hill. 1500 feet of climbing condensed into only 4 miles. You'd think that a ride from there would be all downhill back to where we parked the car, but that is hardly the case.

We set off sometime shortly after 11 and finished at 4:30. I am properly broken. Mike thinks we did at least 2500 feet of climbing over something like 15 miles. It really did feel like it was all uphill until the last big descent to the car. It may not sound like all that much up, but nearly all of it was on this super soft detritus that felt like riding on wet sponges. It was so energy-sucking that even my eyeballs were tired.

On the brightside, I took out one of my new '08 demo bikes. It's a WSD Fuel EX8. It's not the spec I would like, but that's just because I'm a top-end snob. Initially, I thought there was something weird in the front end of the bike. It felt like it was a more slack head angle than previous versions, and it took me a while to adjust to it and steer properly. But I quickly realized that it really excels on what steep stuff I did ride. Gone is that feeling of being too far foward on the bike. The thing is overwhelmingly stable. I'm lovin' it (not McDonalds. Gross.).

Today though, that bike deserved a better rider.

I've just had homemade apple crepes with ice cream for dessert. I deserve it, I did ride my bike today after all.

Thanks to my future housemate for showing us the way (again), and to Maurice for just being cool.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Aceness of Friends

Above: Sara, SteveM, Ferrentino, and you know who during one of my favorite days.

Holy cow...What a trip. I don't even know where to begin, and even if I did I'm not sure I know what to say.

Singlespeed World's was everything I thought it would be. Aviemore is a spectacular place, and one of the things I loved most about being there was that it wasn't my first time to the little village in the Cairngorms. I already knew that the hot chocolate at Cafe Mambo is stellar, and I already knew that it would be the source of much shenanigans and evening revelrie. I already knew about that little piece of secret singletrack that runs along the paved bike path out to Bothy Bikes, and I already knew that the ride out to the race course was full of head-turning views.

I suspected that having my best friends in the world from the UK, and some very good friends from this side of the pond in the same place at the same time was going to make it hard for me to decided who to talk to and when. Fortunately, everyone mingled together and got along famously-mostly outside of Cafe Mambo. The Unofficial SSCW Headquarters. I hate to use the term 'partying hard' simply because it sounds all a bit too college frat party. It also suggests that things were less than civilized. The reality of it is that there were many nights (consecutively) that involved staying up until the wee hours of the morning, but I think we were all having so much fun just chatting and laughing, and watching Biff on the dance floor, that we didn't want it to end. Big nights out, followed by big days out on bike rides, with big purple hills and open moorland. How much better could it be?

There are just so many things to remember from the trip. I'm afraid I've already forgotten things that I really don't want to forget. Time with people that really do feel more like family than merely friends. Time in a place that I'd give my big toe to live in. Time away from all the shite that is happening in the world. Real ales, single malts, singlespeeds. I'm at a loss for much else.

And of course, there's the Random Canadian, and The Most Beautiful Man in the World, and Sara, my protagonist in crime, and Fez Ferrentino the 'shoulder' for the second time. And...everyone else. Life is mostly really friggin' good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Four Flat Fingers and a Camel

Above: Jo, Roly, Katie, and Nigel on the South Downs, enjoying the view.

Welp...It's been almost a week already. Where has the time gone? Oh that's right, I've been having loads of fun catching up with friends and riding bikes.

I've done some really long rides since I've been here. Much longer than anything I do at home on my own (at least on the mountain bike). Other than some er, 'discomfort in the saddle region', I've hardly felt any sort of suffering in that debilitating, 'I've just bonked' way. I attribute this to being in great company. What a difference riding with friends makes. I'm reminded how much I miss it.

So thanks to Jenn for slowing down to my snails pace and at least pretending to be cheerful throughout the ride (although I know there was no faking involved), Nigel and Katie for being great new friends who don't mind me stopping along the way to pick blackberries, Tim for letting me crash his party, Biff, Ruth and the boys for being the great humans that they are, and of course Jo for, well, just being Jo (there are far too many things to thank you for in the space of a blog post). Sorry about my carbon footprint.

My gratitude extends to the ever lovely Fisk's. Anyone who has the good fortune of knowing them understands why a visit to theirs is a special treat.

The best is that there's more to come! More bike riding, more time spent with friends, more enjoying everything I love about the UK.

And let's not forget, more of these (which are great):

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mysteries of the Human Body

This post is a work in progress...I'm trying to sort out how to display the map details from my ride.

Ok so that's not going to happen. Oh well.

The point was to show that the 40 mile climby ride I did yesterday, during which I felt great even though I did about 15 miles of climbing, left me feeling quite tired. On today's ride I felt like poo, and I went out easy on 30 miles of flat to rolling.

Now, I know a bit more than the average person about how the body works, but it never ceases to amaze me that I can feel so strong one day, and like a boneless mass of flesh the next.

I think I'm the slowest person in Boulder on a bike.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Oh, Canada

Well...British Columbia is ace. By all accounts, I should have a very bad taste in my mouth from my trip to the Northwest. I had two rocks hit the windshield, one of which left a big, traversing crack in the glass while the other left a flare-like ding. I had a piece of trim fall off the trailer (that miraculously stayed perched on the trailer tongue) which led me to buy a torx set, none of which fit the bolts that hold the side of the trailer together. Then the coup de grace came in Whistler when a phone call at 7:15 in the morning woke me with the news that my trailer had been broken into. Dan's bike got nicked, which makes me feel horrible. Good times.

Oh, I forgot to mention that two days after getting over the break in, I discovered that a mouse had taken up residence in the trailer. Never a dull moment.

Still, Whistler or all of the BC coast really, is such a beautiful place. I tried downhilling for the first time and had an absolute blast. I spent a couple of days with Dan and Laura in North Van catching up on some R&R and generally didn't want to leave.

The not-so-short list of places I'd like to live now includes B.C. It's yet another places that leaves me feeling like coming home to Boulder is anti-climactic.

I didn't see any Canadian sheep, but I did see several black bears.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Soul Sucking

Some bike shops have no soul. I've been to two that are part of a 5-store chain in the last 4 days. The whole thing has this 'corporate' feel to it, and it's obvious when talking to the staffers that the owners and buyer have lost the plot. It all makes my job much, much harder. To make matters worse, chatting after my event tonight meant I didn't make it home until 10, which is when I was hoping to be in bed in order to get up early and do a 'beat the heat' ride. Now I'm tired and want to go to bed, but need to wait just a bit for my very late dinner to digest some.

I managed to get out on the bike today, although it was a later start than I wanted and because of the heat, an embarassingly short 25 miles with one big climb. Oh well, the worst day riding is still better than the best day working, right?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The summary post

Oy. May 23 was my last post. I'm so very slack. It's not for lack of things to write about. It's been a very busy couple of months for me, as is usually the case when summer rolls around. So, here's a little summary of what I've been up to:

-I spent some time around LA in early June. Really not a big fan of that place. I did some riding, though.
-Got to hang out in Santa Cruz for a couple of days of R&R. Did some riding there.
-Worked my way up to Bend, Oregon. Fantastic place with great mountain biking. I did a long mtb ride there.
-Spent a couple of days in Park City visiting my friend Thane and having him drag me around the great trails and roads there. That was a workout. Four rides in two days. Then my right IT band in my knee blew up. I blame Thane for making me have so much fun riding.
-Worked the week-long Ride the Rockies road tour and got to spend some more quality time with my ace pal Q from Shimano. I did no riding because of said knee.
-Flew to Manchester, NH to visit with my sister and her kids for a couple of days before we all headed down to my parents' house in New Jersey. Did no riding because of the knee, but did get it massaged a few times.
-Got a tattoo
-Flew back to Colorado on the 4th of July and drove to Winter Park to set up for Crankworks. No ride that day.
-Finally got back on the bike on July 5th.
-Went to Steamboat for an event and have wound up staying here despite a plan to go home on Tuesday.

I've now ridden 6 days in a row with no real issues with the knee. Woop!

That's the long and short. Regular programming (slackness) will now resume.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tall Blondes

Feed me

So I got to make a trip to the San Diego Zoo today. It's world famoose, don'tcha know. My friend Kathy works there, so I got to do some behind the scenes stuff, like pet a giraffe and visit the koala barn.

After my trip to the zoo (no, they didn't try to keep me) I went to a little guitar shop and got to look at a 1958 Fender Esquire. It's worth somewhere around 50 large. Whoa.

No riding for the last couple of days, but I did a nice long ride the other day. Not sure what my distance was, but I was in the saddle for 5 hours. I rode to the coast and back. Maybe 50 miles. I was really more in it for the time than distance.

I'm off to Paso Robles tomorrow for a weekend event. I should get some riding done around wine country.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chamied Up Like A Pro

How do you spell that, anyway? Chamoised? Chammy'd? Chammied?

Regardless of the spelling, I approached tri-geek levels the other day by staying in my riding clothes for more hours than I care to admit. Only about 20 minutes of it was actual bike time. Gross!

I'm back in Utah again. It's time to be back on the road for another long trip for work. It's the SoCal leg, so that means stopping in Fruita and St. George for rides. I may have discovered the best kept secret in Fruita: Rustler's Loop is more fun when ridden backwards. I was so excited to get on my bike today and the laps I took felt great. I could have ridden for another hour if it weren't for the constant pressure to be back behind the wheel and passing the miles. 'Course I only went as far as Green River in the end, which is only about 70 miles from Fruita.


I saw Keane on Monday night. It was an absolutely fantastic show. It partially made up for the now FOUR concerts I'm going to miss this summer as a result of being on the road. The list is now Bloc Party, Snow Patrol at FREAKIN' RED ROCKS!, Daft Punk, and Matisyahu. Stoopid job...

Recent rides:
Friday-Allison's recovery ride/my pegged heartrate ride for an hour and a half. Followed by a mountain bike ride up the canyon and back. I was amped to be on the bike that day. Despite the pain of the road ride, I couldn't resist doing some more.

Sunday-Ride to the Sport's Garage demo. One way is all of about 10 minutes. That was the all-day in the chamois. I got so disgusted with myself that I took some turns on the dirt demo loop. Then I rode home and went straight into the shower.

Monday-Road ride with Thane. His computer logged 33.2 miles. It's essential to include the .2. Fun ride. Nice to have Thane along for company. We rode to Longmont airport and watched planes take off and land for a bit.

Yesterday consisted of riding the bike path to shuttle old Touaregs to the dealership.

St. George tomorrow!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Over-reactions and Gitfiddle lessons

In my recent posts I've been terribly remiss in not mentioning my sheep sightings. I know, I know...Unbelievable and nearly unforgivable.

So let me back up.

There's a farm along I-80 just east of Park City. There are many sheep on that farm. Woo!
At Sea Otter the trail I rode goes through a small holding that contains sheep. I saw them on the opposite hillside. Yay!
In Fruita there are numerous farms between town and the Bookcliffs (18 Road, home of Joe's Ridge) riding area. It's lamb season and I got to see a huckin' lamb. Yeehaaw!

Sheepspotting helps restore balance as once again I woke up to news of the 'end of the world', this time right here at home. A couple of guys in camo walked into Boulder High School early this morning and were spotted by a cafeteria worker. She yelled at them and they took off running. That caused a media/police frenzy that lasted all day. It even made The Beeb.

Now the University of Colorado graduation ceremony is all extra high security because of this, and there's banter about whether or not things have been blown out of proportion.

I forced myself to stay off the bike today, but I've got to go ride tomorrow to get some positive endorphins going after a day sat in front of the 'This Just In!' news briefs. My other roommate Allison has arrived home from her month-long racing trip to Europe, so I'm going to go get my ass kicked by her on her 'easy, recovery ride'.

Congrats to Chrissy and Judd, who welcomed another cyclist into the world this morning.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The World Is On Fire

Sheesh...I woke up this morning and turned on the news to learn that there are fires in Florida and California, towns that have been wiped out by tornadoesin Kansas and Oklahoma, floods where I used to live around Kansas City, and a named storm off the coast of Florida well in advance of hurricane season.

Mother Nature is pretty pissed off right now.


I did a women's mtb ride last night at Walker Ranch, a trail above Boulder I've never ridden before. I came across this group on MTBR but had never met any of them. It was a mixed group, meaning that there were really nice people, and some of the people that typify the attitude here in Boulder that I loathe. The trail itself was fun and hard. Lots of long climbing with some techy bits, an amazing section of downhill singletrack, and an unrideable and nearly unwalkable hike down to the Boulder Creek.

I was chatting with SimonDB yesterday and he mentioned how defeating it is when you feel your legs go and you are only halfway through a ride. That happened to me last night (you jinxed me, Simon!!). It was my third day of hard riding in a row, and my gams decided that they really didn't want to work any more on the way up the first big climb.

I really need a recovery day. I've ridden all but one of the last 15 days. My one day off was a demo day so I was on my feet for many hours. I should really stay off the bike tonight but I've committed to another ride with some friends so I can't really back out. Oh well, I can rest when I'm dead!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shitstorms and Rainy Day Rides

Long time, no type.

So it was Fruita time again last weekend. The Fat Tire Festival brought Photo Man Dan down from North Van to hang out for the weekend for some riding and picture taking. We had a smashing time, that was until we had an unfortunate run in with some fresh cow flop that managed to splash it's way into every nook and cranny of the bikes, and Dan's eye. Not good times.

Things are in the normal 'season on the road' swing here. I got back from a month-long trip last week and am currently enjoying a couple of weeks at home before yet another month on the road. My riding frequency has been quite high of late. I've been spending longer hours in the saddle in an effort to get fit. It seems to be working.

I started guitar lessons yesterday. I've been playing on my own for about a month. As of right now, I can't feel the end of my middle finger on my left hand.

Not much else to report, although sheep are still great.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Of wine and wheel bags-40 candles for the lefty artiste

Every once in a while, life throws you a reminder that things don't always go according to plan. This week has been one of those little allusions.

After being terribly overdue in the first place, my new work vehicle was due to arrive on Monday at the local VW dealership. Monday came and went, and no car. Tuesday, I got the call from my usual service guy to let me know the car was in, and the hitch was being installed. I could pick it up at 4:30. It was quite down to the wire, but the graphics guys said that having it first thing this morning would give them time to finish it around lunchtime, and then I could get everything loaded up for my departure tomorrow morning. I have an event in San Fran on Saturday, so leaving in the morning would give me plenty of time to make the Bay Area Friday night in time to have dinner with Laura Bontrager and her riding posse.

So...the car comes 'round. The first thing I did was put a Dirt Rag and Singletrack sticker on the back window. I might not have my graphics on yet, but at least I could repr-ra-sent my peeps with a couple of stickers, yo.

This was a mistake, because once I finally got in the car and looked at the center console, I noticed a gaping hole where the control for the auto suspension leveler was supposed to reside. This is the same hole (that's actually a lilttle storage slot that's about the size of a shot glass) that I have in my current Touareg. I'm the ONLY ONE ON THE ROAD that has this hole instead lf the auto leveler. There are nine people on the road, and I'm the only one that hasn't had it ever. The other version of the Touareg has air bag suspension. The control allows you to dial in the suspension based on the ground clearance you are after, or based on the amount of payload you are towing. It prevents the car/trailer combination from forming a V when everthing is hitched up.

This is a huge pain in the ass for a number of reasons:
-My new trailer is considerably larger than the old one. I could get away with not having the leveler before because the old trailer, even when fully loaded, wasn't enough to significantly raise the front end of the car. When empty the new trailer already raised the front end of the car to the same level as the old one at full capacity. I knew that there was no way I would be able to pull the fully loaded new caboose without that leveler.
-I have the largest territory in the country and tow the most miles. The leveler would greatly reduce the amount of wear on the car.
-I have been asking for the leveler since the days when the new vehicles were still but a glimmer in VW's perental eye. Again, I'M THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS NEVER HAD IT.
-I repeatedly reminded my boss and our logistics coordinator that I would need the leveler, especially with the new trailer. They got the message, and henceforth repeadetly reminded the contact at VW that I needed the leveler, more than anyone else like, for example, the chick that lives in FLORIDA where it's flatter than a flat thing (oh, and she has a small trailer). New cars all show up, who still doesn't have the leveler?? ME!
-VW assured us over and over that all of the cars had the leveler. This is insult to injury.
-Because of all of this, I'm going to have to miss my first big event of the year, one that I was very much looking forward to.

Regardless of the fact that this has been completely out of my hands, I regard this as highly unprofessional.

It's my job to represent the company in a favorable way, and to help women become more enthusiastic bike riders; to further their involvement in a sport that isn't just a leisure activity for me, but a career and lifestyle. Even though my potential influence would extend to a handful of people at most, this is a big letdown for me. Don't even get me started on the fact that it means that my arrival into Santa Cruz is now delayed.

The only way I know how to deal with this is to go for a ride tomorrow. There's nothing else I can do. I'm all set to go, save for the frenzy of packing clothes/gear/cameras and all sundry invovled. So, a ride it is, while I wait to hear the results of the inevitable conversations between the home office and VW of America.

One last question remains: road or mountain??

A very happy (and belated) birthday to my acest of pals, my long distance confidante, my brotha from anotha motha, the keeper of the proper road attire flame, the UCI fashion police chief himself-and hand behind the most fab mountain biking sheep Mint Sauce: Jo Burt.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pranged by the French


I've had a couple of fantastic days of riding, due in large part to the arrival of the warm part of Colorado spring weather.

Yesterday I headed out with the intention of getting some serious saddle time in and going at a nice, gentle pace. I was sort of aiming for the Jo Burt 50 Mile Challenge, but I didn't want to put any pressure on myself to go that far. I was perfectly happy to stay on the bike for the equivalent amount of time, though. I knew I could probably hang out for a while since I'd planned to stay on the flat side and not push up any serious canyon climbs.

I headed out the usual way towards Lyons, but instead of turning left into the town 15 miles later, I went right towards a different town that was another 11 miles away. Since it was such a nice day, there were lots of little planes buzzing around overhead, and on this new road I saw several airport signs. Being the plane buff that I am I thought it'd be fun to go check things out. When I got to the airport a while later, about 20 skydivers were sequentially opening their chutes. Another lot was waiting to hop into the plane to go up. I hung out for probably 45 minutes watching people freefall for 30 seconds and then gently ride the thermals down to the ground. It was ace.

I spent 4 hours on the bike in total, being carried along the miles by Snow Patrol and green apple PowerGel. I was completely satisfied at the end. I reckon I did somewhere around 43 miles, give or take (probably take) five.

Today I decided to ride despite having a long list of things to do in preparation for a trip to the Home Office in Wisconsin tomorrow. The weather was unbelievable today. I had some bikes to box up in the garage, so I donned the usual hoodie and jeans. I walked out the door and realized that I was entirely overdressed. By noon it was already 70 degrees. Shorts and a t-shirt then!

The day made it impossible for me to ignore the idea of riding. I decided to go shorter today, but throw in a really big canyon climb, one that I've attempted before but couldn't handle because of the pitch. I was determined today, even if it meant stopping to ease the battle between my lungs and the thin air. I made it, and threw in another loop just for good measure. My ass hurt from yesterday, and it was difficult to find a comfortable position by the end of the ride. It was only about 25 miles, but again a very satisfying ride. The first in just a short sleeve jersey and shorts. I noticed in my post-ride shower that I've already got some cyclist tan lines.

I'm definitely in one of those manic phases of riding right now. Despite the warm weather, the trails are still pretty snowy, so I've been doing a lot of road riding. I've rediscovered the joy of the road bike, I must say.

I still yearn for the trails though, and I hope that the 'in like a lion' tendencies of March are more lamb-like this year. I hope Mother Nature takes some drugs to quell those mood swings that normally result in a couple of winter's last hurrah snowstorms.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I made only my second trip ever to the State of Montana earlier this week. What a gorgeous place. The worst part about Montana is that you have to drive through the ugly part of Wyoming from here to get there. I was up there for work but planned a day on the snowboard in between events.

Montana is paradise for wildlife spotting. I saw 4 bald eagles and 2 golden eagles. It's packed with wolves, buffalo, elk, fox, coyote, moose, and loads of birds of prey. Let's not forget the scenery. The northern most border of Yellowstone National Park is actually in Montana, and everyone says it's the more scenic part.

They haven't had much snow up there this year, and everyone said that it might be thin coverage on my snowboard day. My timing was perfect though. Just after my event in Bozeman, the snow started to fall...Hard. In the morning the total was 8 inches at Bridger Bowl. That was on top of 5 inches that fell on Sunday night. Bridger doesn't get very busy during the week, so much of the previous snowfall was still on the mountain. It was an epic day. I went with my sales rep Larry, and one of the guys from the shop in Bozeman. They had me going down blacks and double blacks, and in the trees! Stuff I would never do on my own. It was tough, and after 4 hours my legs were toast.

I guess it's true what 'they' say about improving when you ride with someone who's better than you and can push you some. It was possibly my best day on the board ever.

Back in Colorado now, and the weather here is typically spring-like. Warm days followed by snow storms. It was nearly 60 today, so I hit the pavement with Janis for a nice, easy recovery road ride (hers: recovery from racing the 24 hours in the Old Pueblo last weekend, mine from 3 days of driving and the hard day on the board). More snow is in the forecast for this weekend, so it's looking like more snowboard time is in the cards.

It's a tough life, but someone has to do it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bob Roll Magnetism and a Birthday Wish

Today was the prologue of the Tour of California. A guy by the name of Jason Donald (Slipstream racing) nearly won it. He was the 7th of 144 riders to go, and he set a time that none of the greats of today could best, except for the very last rider to depart the start house. It took a lung buster of a ride by Levi Leipheimer to beat Jason's time. It was an extraordinary start to what is becoming a premier race.

The prologue also reminded me of some small world examples:

-Versus is broadcasting the Tour. It used to be OLN. My friend Bob Roll is one of the commentators along with Phil and Paul (who really don't require last names). Bob has some serious charm to him, and despite being a not-so-handsome man, women love him. I've had a few conversations about this with him. He doesn't see it. I can't believe that he doesn't see it. He says women don't like him. I remind him that his ladyfriend is a knock out, not to mention a fabulous person. He doesn't know what she's doing with him. Today during the broadcast they were showing clips from the gala event last night. The had a shot of Bob being flanked by a few lovely ladies posing for a photo op. Phil and Paul asked him how he does it? Then Phil said it must be some kind of 'Bob Roll mangetism'. I can't wait until my next conversation with him about this. Thanks to Phil for unknowingly providing me with heckling material.

-Slipstream is the team that used to be TIAA-Cref. My roommate Damien is their team mechanic. Jason Donald is from Winter Park, CO. My other roommate Alison is also from Winter Park, CO, and grew up with Jason. Both of them were avid skiers (Alison was more than avid, she was a professional ski racer on the US Ski Team). Both of them started racing bikes seriously last year. Both of them signed pro contracts this year. Both of them are already regarded as among the best domestic racers on the scene right now.

-I did a great ride last Sunday (see below) that started at the home of a couple of other friends of mine: Nat Ross and his girlfriend Janis. The ride we did was a regular group ride that starts at the Starbucks in downtown Golden, CO. Jason Donald was on that ride. Today he surprised everyone by coming out of nowhere and setting a time that 142 other riders, including the current World Champion time trialist (Cancellara) coulndn't beat. A week ago today he was doing a ride that included slow ass me. Ok, obviously I wasn't hanging with his pace, but we all started out together.

And most importantly:

-Phil was the guest emcee at the Singletrack reader awards a few years ago. The editor of the magazine was born on February 19th.

Happiest happy birthday, Chipps. I've got a Snow Patrol ticket with your name on it. I take my Rainbow Hat of Projectile Tropical Island Protection off to you, but just for today. :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Tonight I had an odd-hours chat with someone who is the closest thing to a brother that I have. Er, outside of my actual brother that is. When I pop online at 10:30 Mountain Standard Time, I'm not expecting to see anyone from the UK on at that hour. That's even too early for Rob Fisk! So, it's a bit worrisome. I don't like the idea that people I care about aren't 'ok'. I want everyone to be ok.

This particular friend, let's just call him Aslant Tom to protect his innocence (as if that were possible), was awake because of an overactive mind. I'm been the victim of this myself. Now, I have to say that there is such a thing as good worry. Bad worry happens because you are generally scared for someone. You know that their well-being is at risk in some fashion or another. In the case of good worry, you know that it's something that doesn't jeopardize the life of someone. They may be in a rough spell, but it's somewhat minor in comparison to say, finding out a bad medical diagnosis, or that there's another disease affecting sheep.

I've got good worry for Aslant Tom. I don't want him to be having sleepless nights, but I know that his mild insomnia is happening because he's got even more good things ahead, he wants to get started on them, and just doesn't have all the details sorted out yet. He'll work through it, and all will be 'ok' again.

And well, as far as I know there isn't yet another disease killing off sheep, so things can't really be all that bad.

Now all I need to figure out is how to make sure the Big Not Really Gayer is fine.

And as long as I'm on the topic of expressing well-wishes...My best goes out to Rob and Chris over their loss. I know both of these people are rock solid individuals, and even more of an impressive force of nature together. I've no doubt that death, although able to slow them down temporarily perhaps, isn't enough to stop them. Big, transatlantic hugs to you both.

Monday, February 12, 2007

It's only 'No Drop' if you can keep up

I've had a glorious couple of days of riding this weekend.

Yesterday, I set off along the foothills to Lyons, a town 15 miles north of Boulder. Some may know it as the home of Oskar Blues, AKA Dale's Pale Ale/Old Chub beer. It's a quiet little town, and a popular destination for cyclists, either as a pass-through or, like me, a turn around cafe stop. We've been enjoying more normal weather here which means that the riders have been out in droves.

I got about 2 or 3 miles from home when I realized that I'd forgotten my water bottle. Back I went (downhill to the house), and off again (uphill to where I'd made the turn). My legs were feeling particularly perky. Some guy passed me just outside of Lyons, then sat up. I imagine he saw that I was a chick and decided he couldn't just leave me alone up ahead of him. But when he slowed down, I had a sudden burst of strength (aided by a leveling of the road) so I kicked it into the big ring and blew past him. I held that pace for the next 3 miles, all the way to the junction of the turn into town. When I turned around to change lanes, the guy was just rolling up on my wheel again. I hope he was busting his lungs to catch me. Ok, he probably wasn't, but in my fantasy world of being an 'undiscovered talent', he was. He passed me at the light, so I sat on his wheel the last mile into town. I got to Lyons, stopped for my halfway chai, then set off for home.

My legs stayed fresh after the climb out from Lyons, so I started thinking that maybe I'd push a little more than 30 miles. There's a short loop that I do from home when I'm pressed for time but want a ride, and the turnoff for it was ahead of me. I knew doing another 12 miles was probably going to make the last few miles to the house painful, but I went for it anyway. I intersected with a couple of VeloNews riders near the end (bonus: again I blew past the same guy from earlier in the ride, in a small world coincidence) and held on to their wheel until just before my final turn. On the final stretch, the legs went. At the end of the day I did somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 miles. I haven't ridden that far on a road ride in...Shoot, I can't even remember how long.

I got home and had a phone call from Janis, the better half of Nat Ross. They live just down the road in Golden and wanted me to come out in the evening. I was all set to spend the rest of the night recovering on the couch, but was talked into going out by the tag-team efforts of Janis and my sister. In the end, it was a fun night. I got to catch up with some old friends that I wasn't expecting to see, and was invited to a ride this morning. It was meant to be a 'no drop' ride.

The ride starts from the Starbucks in downtown Golden. I knew I was in trouble when one by one, rider after rider showed up in full team kit. Among this group was one of the best road racers in the country. Riiiight. The good news, is that my ace friend Spot Chris Fuller also came out for a ride. This is a miracle in and of itself. He was wearing 3/4 baggies. Yeah.

Sure enough, The pace of the racer boy group was quick from the start. I had no illusions of keeping up with them.

Long story longer, Fuller and I wound up doing the big climb of the day up Bear Creek Canyon. Any road around here that has the word 'canyon' or 'gulch' in it means that it's going to be a very long, sometimes very steep climb. As this one went, it wasn't too terrible. The biggest issue I was having was a sore ass from fitting a new saddle only 2 rides ago. We climbed for 8 miles to the town of Kittrege, found a general store, and reloaded with a mix of chocolate milk, Gatorade, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

I have no idea how many miles we did today. I think it was around 30. Most of it was indeed uphill, and I was spent at the end. We all met up back at Nat and Janis' house and went for a huge Mexican feast. Chicken mole (pronounced: MO'lay) enchiladas. Mmmmmm!

I'm completely chuffed at the rides this weekend. I'm also completely wiped out and could easily have gone to bed at 9pm. The only thing that would have been better was to have ridden the dirt. The trails here aren't ready yet, though. Some are still buried under snow, and those that aren't are muddy from the big melt off. Soon though, my precious.

I hope everyone has had some good adventures on bikes lately. We must always remember these two things:

-Sheep Are Great
-Bikes Are Ace

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A farewell to the air mattress

Last night I slept in an actual bed, in my own house. This may not sound remarkable, but consider the fact that for the majority of my tenure here I was sleeping on an air mattress. I was pretty comfortable, I must say. I'd pimped it out with a featherbed top, a nice flannel sheet, and the worlds fluffiest duvet. I'd by lying if I said I didn't have many peaceful nights on it. As an added bonus, I think I actually got stronger legs hoisting myself up from next-to-ground level every morning. But, it was still an air mattress, and I always sort of felt like I was camping in my own house. So, when the opportunity came to get a real box spring and mattress on the cheap from a friend, I jumped. You may recall a similar post the last time I had an actual bed (that lasted about a month). In it, I mentioned that my first night's sleep on it didn't fare to well, and last night was similar. It might be my bed now, but I haven't formed that essential bed/sleeper bond with it yet.

This morning I motivated myself out the door for some snowboarding. What a fantastic day. I went to Loveland ski area, which is on the Continental Divide. At one point, I sat down to lash down my board. When I was done, I just took a look around. I was sitting at 12.040ft with an amazing panorama of white peaks around me. Most of Loveland is above tree line, so the view of the Rocky Mountain peaks was unobstucted at that altitude. I looked to my right at the wall of snow that rose above, and realized I was looking at the very line that delineates the fate of flowing water. Wicked.

The snow is finally starting to melt here in town. People are already back on bikes riding around. Pretty soon I'll be able to attempt a Colorado Epic Day: board in the morning, ride in the afternoon.

For now, I'll be enjoying another night of sleep at an altitude of 3 feet off the floor.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hard lessons

Human relationships are such frail things. One minute, you think things are fine. The next, everyone has their fur up in a bunch and things are suddenly blown out of proportion. No one can remember exactly how it went wrong. Accusations are made. Defenses are presented, and in the end a bunch of folks are standing around going 'what the fuck just happened?'.

I'm going through this right now. I'm trying very hard to figure out where I am at fault. I don't want to be one of those people who doesn't accept the responsibility for their role in things like this. In this particular case, I really have no idea what I did. I thought I was handling things just fine. Being helpful, even. And now, I'm basically not welcome on a forum that I've always held in high regard.

Human relationships on the internet are even more frail than in reality. If I were a sociology major, I could write one hell of a thesis on the interatcions that take place on internet forums. I know I'm not supposed to care, but when the forum involves people you know personally, then the situation takes on a very different look and feel. It's not simply a matter of arguing with some faceless tosspot anymore.

You know what?? I think it's time for me to go a bit incommunicado. Expressing my opinions has caused nothing but grief. I've done far too much talking. I need to get back to making myself happy, and stop relying on the way I'm treated by others for the source of my happiness. I used to be fairly good at this. Lately, so much of how I feel has been tied up in staying in touch with people in far off places, or in seeking recgonition as a resource to other people. I've got to just be me, and if people respond favorably to that, then great. I'm sure no one wants to be around me in my current state of mind. I don't even want to be around myself.

So, if I seem to drop off the face, please don't mistake that for not wanting to hear from people. I just need to get myself back to some state of normalcy before I alienate everyone I care about outside of my family.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I've come to a harsh realization. The only person I can depend on, is me. I know this isn't some grand revelation to most people. It isn't even to me, but for the first time I'm taking it personally.

A good friend of mine set me straight on a few things in a rather lengthy email reply to my even more lengthy email rant. In it, she broke down some fundamental differences between men and women. She reminded me that men 'don't spend a single second of the day thinking about our feelings.' It may be a gross generalization, but as my level of life experience grows, I'm beginning to think that there's more truth to this statement than I care to admit. This is where me becoming more cognizant enters the picture. I've been letting things sink in since my initial reading of the email. I've concluded that people really do adopt an 'out of sight, out of mind' attitude. Care and concern only extends so far. The best part of friendship, is the ability to walk away when one feels like the relationship has become too much of a burden. If things can't be shiny and happy, then it's time to cut and run. I waste a lot of time wishing that people would find some value in knowing me.

This isn't an easy pill to swallow. I've always thought that at least someone had my back. How naive was I!?

2007 hasn't started off very well. It's ok though, since my New Year's Resolution means I don't expect anything good to happen. It seems a bit early to start wishing this year were over already, but with the way things are shaping up so far, I get the feeling that it's going to be a rough couple of years for me. One thing I know won't be happening is some massive opening of the floodgates. 'Fine' is going to be my standard answer whenever I'm asked how I'm doing. No one really wants to hear any other answer anyway. The question isn't posed as an inquiry. It's become a longer way to say hi.

Here's the catch: none of this new-found wisdom is going to help get me through the ever-growing list of shit that I've got written down. No one else is going to help me get through it, either. It's all up to me; I'm on my own.