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.