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