Adventures in life and photography out West

Archive for June, 2013

Two-wheeled Commute

I shared recently that I once bought a ‘cross bike specifically to commute from the Denver suburbs into downtown for school and work. I lived in Golden and commuted, making for a 30-mile round trip, then to Littleton for a 20-miler. I did it back in Omaha, as well, equally as long. But I didn’t think of it as the grind to work, It was my chance to get my head, my attitude, right before stepping into a cubical or classroom. It was my time to meditate.

I found that I was pretty crabby when dealing with traffic; my follow commuters running bumper-to-bumper on the gray pavement. Everyone uptight, everyone trying to get to where they needed sooner than everyone else. On my bike, commuting, I would arrive at work happy, relaxed and ready to work. Now, it’s a movement

Wednesday, June 26, is Bike to Work Day in Estes Park. The event runs from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and is sponsored by the Town of Estes Park, the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, the Estes Park Medical Center and supported by local businesses and organizations, such as Kind Coffee.

If the endorphins flooding your bloodstream isn’t enough, how about coffee? The organizations will offer breakfast that morning at the Estes Park Visitor Center at 500 Big Thompson Avenue. Plumbers and contractors might have a difficult time pulling this off, but if you don’t have 100 pounds of gear and have a functioning bike, this would be worth the effort.

I had the chance to speak to several cycling visionaries and luminaries while out on Ride the Rockies. One of them was cycle coaching guru Chris Carmichael. The video is not yet up as I write, but should be by the time you read. Look for it either here or look for me on YouTube. Look up Where’s Walt.

At any rate, Carmichael has authored two books for those of us who have jobs and families and obligations. The Time-Crunched Cyclist and Time-Crunched Triathlete give suggestions to make a training schedule out of the time you have and make the workouts count. Carmichael told me that athletes can and do train adequately with only 6-10 hours a week. He also pointed pout that nearly as important as quality workouts as quality recovery. I know as well as anyone that sleep is sometimes not a priority. This can lead to chronic fatigue and symptoms of overtraining. We should get, just like every doctor tells us, seven and a half to nine hours of sleep to fully regenerate. Some folks feel they can get by just fine on four to six hours, but studies have shown that except in a tiny percentage, like ultra marathon legend Dean Karnazes, this is simply not true. We will always work better after better rest.

I apologize for not getting a great example of great recovery out on RTR. I spoil myself in two ways, once each, during the ride. After the toughest day, I will get a massage. I recommend this for anyone, rider, runner, swimmer, parent, whomever. It is worth every cent you spend. This ride, I got mine after the 91-mile day that included the ascent of Wolf Creek Pass and the fast, flat ride into Alamosa. It works wonders.

The other thing I like to do on big events is get my own room on the last night on the road. I like a particular hotel chain because they serve free breakfast and usually have a pool. It allows me to get a bit better rest when I’m not worried about the guy with sleep apnea buzzing like a chainsaw two sleeping bags away. The result was much fresher legs the next day.

If you are training for an event and at home, make sleep as much a priority as the workout. We need both. Don’t skip the last hillclimb and don’t skip the last hour of sleep.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . then to bed.Image


I often think of the overly-dramatic, overly-romanticized line delivered by Mel Gibson in Braveheart when I swing a leg over my bike. I think of the line when I’m driving between Lyons and Boulder and see the long lines of riders spinning, joking and prodding each other as they go. On Monday, while returning some borrowed stuff to a family friend, I saw two kids on BMX bikes wearing life vests. FREEDOM!


That is the sort of freedom I am aimed toward. That giddy feeling before an innocent adventure. Going to go find crayfish, like my daughter did this weekend. Going to explore the empty field or backcountry trail. Going to ride roads I have never seen. It’s a freedom of childhood summers.

 I think this is why there are so many rides in Colorado. We live in an unbelievably pretty, scenic state. Mountains, meadows, flowers, old towns, serpentine roads, all add up to that feeling. The exploration of youth. The innocence that we, of a certain age, seem to crave.

 Being able to do this, just jump on my bike and ride all day for a week, is a blessing beyond measure. Saturday, I board a bus bound for Telluride, I reputedly beautiful, old, mining mountain town. I will ride from there all the way back to Colorado Springs, a wonderful city, itself. I will document this journey, relaying back here so I can share the adventure with those who, for whatever reason, won’t be making that trek this year. I plan updates to my blog,, and of course,

 Speaking of cravings, I picked up Allen Lim’s Feed Zone Portables last week. It’s a cookbook created by Lim, former team physiologist for Garmin and RadioShack cycling teams. He and chef Biju Thomas created the food and the cookbook as an alternative to processed energy food that has arisen since the late ’80s.

 I’m a big advocate of real food. Once I got an idea of how much better I perform and how much tastier real food can be, ditching to bars and bites and gels was not that hard. I started making my own “energy bites” from a recipe in Bicycling magazine a while back. Crushed nuts, diced figs, dates, salt, honey and cocoa powder; what could be bad. Then, I discovered a biscotti recipe in Triathlete magazine with nuts, almond flour and dried fruit. They were a huge hit on my group ride a few weeks back. Armed with this knowledge and an enthusiasm for cooking, I was ready for Lim and Thomas’ book.

 The book has a variety of foods. One is not forced into sweet or salty, not just sandwiches or cookies. It has Allen Lim’s now-famous rice cakes, the oatmeal that Kristin Armstrong credits for her gold-medal performance in the Women’s Olympic Time Trial in London, eggs cooked in muffin tins and much more.

 I plan to put it to the test. I will cook up some of these delights and pack them for Ride the Rockies. As much as I enjoyed the crepes last year, and the pancake guy, this might be a bit more economical, as well as better for me.

 With any luck at all, I hope to have images and videos of the rides, themselves. I have a passion for coffee and unique coffee houses, so I hope to explore those. I will also have the chance to meet several cycling stars and luminaries along the way. I will also, finally, be able to give a first-hand review of the Shimano 9000 group set, as well as the C24 wheels. Of course, it is also loads of fun just talking to regular people on the rides. What sort of person spends a week’s hard-earned vacation torturing themselves over mountain passes? If you read this, you already know, but it’s fun to get another rider’s perspective.

 One last little note: if you want to see some racing or find the desire to search for bike treasures, a bike swap is scheduled for Sunday, June 9, at the North Boulder Park during the NOBO Classic Bike Race. It’s a “Drop and swap” meet, so bring those old items that you don’t need. Someone else might be look for that very item.

 Well, I’m off. Check the web site daily for updates. Also, if you just can’t get enough, head to, as well. This is going to be great.

 Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . the Rockies.  

Excitement builds

The Giro d’Italia is over. The Tour de Frances is just next month and the Ride the Rockies, by the time you read this, is nine days in the future. To say I’m wound up would be an understatement. Now the hard part: relaxing


I have been working out, watching my diet, counting every calorie both in and out for months. As I write, the new Shimano Dura-Ace group set is on a UPS truck bound for my home. I’ve begun to receive my media information from the wonderful folks who run Ride the Rockies and I can barely wait. I have to, however, and I have to relax a bit.

This next week is the taper. If you get on the RTR website, the training schedule goes from 185 total miles this week down to 90 next week. It’s time to give the legs a break and let them regenerate. Wednesday this week was the last day I lifted weights ahead of the ride. This is the week when we want to put our legs up a little more, drink even more water and stay off the bike for anything more than maybe 90 minutes.

This is a good week to check the bike. Make sure all of your cables and housings are in good shape. Check your break levers to make sure they’re not sticky or sluggish. Give the chain a good cleaning and re-lubing. Check to make sure your wheels are true. Even check your shoes and cleats to make sure they are clean and properly aligned. There are still plenty of things to do ahead of the week on the bike, even if we don’t ride.

Make sure you have your on-bike nutrition dialed in. Just because we are not pros does not mean we should ignore this detail. I have an array of sensitivities and intolerance, as well as a relatively tight budget. I have to watch what I eat so that I can enjoy my time on and off of the bike that week. I spent some time at CostCo this weekend gearing up with this in mind.

I’m not quite to the point of packing. That will come next week, but I have my bags and a bike box ready. If you are headed for Telluride, you should, too. I hope to cover all of this next week.

In the Amgen Tour of California, young American and Colorado resident Tejay Van Garderen snagged the races GC win, his first major stage race victory. Van Garderen seemed to be the odds-on favorite throughout the week that started in San Diego County under a scorching sun.

Racers suffered the first two days in 110-degree heat, amplified by the pavement. The race began in the south of the Golden State and headed north this year with visits to Mount Diablo where Van Garderen cemented his win, a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge for only the second time in race history, and a final finish in Santa Rosa where Peter Sagan took the final sprint victory as well as the green points jersey for the second year running.

Along the way, relative old-timer, Jen Voigt won stage five. It was his first win since last August when he won the Queen Stage of the USA Pro Challenge from Aspen to Beaver Creek on a long solo break away. Voigt, an international fan favorite, will also race the Pro Challenge when it again winds throu Colorado this coming August.

Just last Sunday, Vicenzo Nibali took an unusually cold and snowy Giro d’Italia. The race saw Dolomite stages modified, and in one case cancelled due to the snowy conditions. Some riders groused about the mid-race changes, but for the sake of rider safety, it was the best thing to do, according to race organizers.

Mark Cavendish won the final sprint into Brecia. It was his fifth sprint win of this year’s Giro. It assured the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider of the races points competition win and made the Manx Missile only the fifth race to claim the points jersey in all three Grand Tours.

The town is still looking for volunteers and ideas for the weekend that the USA Pro Challenge wheels through town. Contact the Special Events folks at 586-6104.

Meanwhile, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding, at least a little.

The image is from the main street in Leadville during last year’s Ride the Rockies.