Adventures in life and photography out West

Archive for February, 2015

Quality season begins

New casual clothes, new title and a new Ride the Rockies route. It’s been a great week.

I’m big into quality. I love when I buy something I really like and it lasts. I have a 30-year-old Golds Gym sweatshirt. I have a t-shirt from my senior high school track season. My Jake the Snake ‘cross bike is 15-years-old. And while I am riding only my second season on my current carbon fiber frame, I’m plotting for a custom Ericksen ti frame. It’s the last road frame I will ever need.

So I was wonderfully surprised when the gifts my wife bought for my birthday arrived. The first thing that struck me was the bag, itself.

 

Apres Velo's bag was a hint to the quality of the apparel.

Apres Velo’s bag was a hint to the quality of the apparel.

Even the bag was high-quality! The graphics, the construction, even a little window to see what would soon be my new favorite shirts. Then the shirts, themselves.

My wonderful wife bought the Sufferlandrian collection for me from Apres Velo: two shirt-sleeved t-shirts, one long-sleeved and a polo. All with great, durable stitching, great graphics, and all of the embellishment on the polo was embroidered.

One of three pieces from the Sufferlandrian collection.

One of three pieces from the Sufferlandrian collection.

A word of warning: when you order from Apres Velo, order your jersey size. These are fashions for cyclists. I usually wear a large t-shirt. My wife wisely ordered extra-large for these shirts. Large would have been uncomfortable.

Of course with this theme, I can announce that I have been awarded the Knighthood of Sufferlandria! I rode about 12 hours on my trainer, through 10 consecutive Sufferfest videos. All were challenging, all were entertaining.

If you are unfamiliar, the Sufferfest  is a site that provides indoor training videos, at first for cycling, then triathlon and now running. The videos have structured workouts with a background of professional races. My current favorite is Local Hero, a series of intervals and sprints set against the background of the 2010 UCI Road World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. The creators add a bit of commentary token it fun. At the end of this workout, they added sprints against some of the best sprinters in World Championship history, including my  favorite, the 2002 race won by Mario Cipollini. Another warning: remember the 10% rule when increasing your training volume. I ignored it while earning my knighthood. I am missing work as I write because wildly overtraining can result in a compromised immune system.

Hopefully, I will get some fitness gains out of this experience. One thing I know I will get is the Sufferfest Knights kit!

The beautiful Knights of Sufferlandria jersey.

The beautiful Knights of Sufferlandria jersey.

I plan to wear this beautiful kit during this year’s Ride the Rockies! This year could be the most beautiful, certainly of the four I’ve ridden. The ride begins, this year, in Grand Junction on June 13, and will cover seven days, 465 mile and climb over 40,000 feet before ending in quaint, little Westcliffe on Saturday, June 20. The first day sets the tone as the ride tackles the Tour of the Moon, from Grand Junction, through the Colorado National Monument to Fruita and back to Grand Junction.

The Colorado National Monument, setting for the Tour of the Moon.

The Colorado National Monument, setting for the Tour of the Moon.

Day two is all beauty all the time with an epic 98-mile day through Palisade, up and over the highest flattop mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa, and on to lovely little Hotchkiss.

Funky, artsy little place.

Funky, artsy little place.

It’s another stunning day when the route travels from Hotchkiss through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the town of Gunnison on Day three. The route is 78 miles but with the views of the Painted Wall and Blue Mesa Reservoir, it will fly by.

Blue Mesa Res., just east of the Black Canyon.

Blue Mesa Res., just east of the Black Canyon.

The ride went through this area in 2012, my first RTR, and I look forward to returning.

Day Four, Tour Director Chandler Smith and the gang give the riders a bit of a break with a 27 or 35-mile ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte. I’m especially excited about this day as I have never been to Crested Butte. With a short day on the bike, riders get lots of time to explore the legendary mountain town. The town has hosted the finish to a couple USA Pro Challenge stages and will be a great rest day.

Iconic Colorado mountain town, Crested Butte will welcome riders at the end of day four.

Iconic Colorado mountain town, Crested Butte will welcome riders at the end of day four.

Day five will be the day everyone talks about for years. The route leaves Crested Butte to ascend 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass, pass Buena Vista and the Mount Princeton Hot Springs into the Arkansas River town of Salida. As in 2013, Salida will also be hosting the FIBArk Whitewater Festival. The town shows hints of Colorado’s Spanish heritage with low adobe homes in close to a victorian downtown and the Arkansas River running right through the middle. The festival featured kayakers slaloming through the river as well as a fair and live music. Hopefully, riders will have enough energy to come out and enjoy the town.

Welcoming committee

Welcoming committee

Day six retraces what was to be the penultimate day of RTR 2013, Salida east to the Royal Gorge, over the bridge, over Skyline Drive and into Cañon City. In 2013, a fire engulfed the park around the Royal Gorge, burning several buildings and forcing some quick rerouting, the long way through Westcliffe, Silver Cliff, Wetmore and Florence. The positive of all of that was that the organizers got an idea. Let’s visit that area again.

The funny little town pulls out the stops for RTR

The funny little town pulls out the stops for RTR

The final day of RTR 2015 will take riders south out of Cañon City, through Florence and over Hardscrabble Pass and descending, finally, through Silver Cliff to the town of Westcliffe. The town is wedged between the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the west and the Wet Mountains to the east.

Finishing up in Westcliffe

Finishing up in Westcliffe

I am just beside myself with anticipation for this year’s ride. This is the year I bit the bullet and purchase a GoPro, and what more reason would I need than the sites along this route?

Before we get any further let me acknowledge that the scenic shots in this post were lifted from the RTR web site. I look forward to getting my own this year. I will also get plenty of interviews and touristy pieces, thanks to these wonderful ladies.

Liz and Renee, RTR Staff

Liz and Renee, RTR Staff

In the mean time, I have to drive this cold out so I can SLOWLY ramp my training back up. June is coming and it will be great.

Between now and then, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.


Timing

Well into the quest for Knighthood, plenty of suffering.

Well into the quest for Knighthood, plenty of suffering.

I’m at my day job and I can just barely contain myself. I’m thinking back on a really good week; completed the Tour of Sufferlandria while earning a Knighthood of Sufferlandria. It’s a fitting start to the slow build up to the riding season. Although, for me, the real kickoff event for the 2015 season is Saturday night in Denver. This will be fun.

Saturday night is the Ride the Rockies Route Premier Party at the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Yah, it’s kind of a big deal. This year marks the 30th RTR and the party features food by Maggiano’s Little Italy, adult beverages by O’Dell Brewing. Live music by Minor Note Orchestra. All proceeds from the event benefit the Denver Post Community Foundation.

There are usually fun and games, including a chance to win free entry into this year’s RTR; Guess the Route! If someone can guess which town’s this year’s rout will include, that lucky person will get to ride for free. There will be gifts and other surprises, as well.

You still have a few days to order tickets on line at this site for $40. At the door on Saturday, tickets will be $50. I will be there talking with organizers and riders, shooting video and having a great time.

So you haven’t heard of The Sufferfest or the Knights of Sufferlandria? Well, you are missing out! If you live north of New Mexico or higher than about 5,000 feet, you probably have a real winter, as I do. That requires some time on the indoor trainer, rollers or spinning bike. Even if you own TdF videos, “Breaking Away” and “American Flyers” you won’t be training long before you have had enough. The Sufferfest offers a variety of workouts with footage of major pro cycling races. The instructions on the screen are easy to follow, as well as being humorous to break up the suffering. They offer short time trial videos, long climbing videos and everything in between. I own three of the videos, including two that feature the 2013 Giro d’Italia. You can purchase individual videos or, now, download their mobile app which allows users to pay for a month of unlimited use of unlimited videos. If you have a tablet of iPad, or can tolerate the tiny screen of your smart phone, this is likely the best deal.

The Knighthood of Sufferlandria is a daunting challenge involving riding to 10 consecutive Sufferfest videos while taking no more than 10 minutes in between. While you don’t have to, The Sufferfest encourages those questing for the knighthood to use the event to raise money for a favorite charity. I chose the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation for my ride. I raised a little money, but did this on a whim, so didn’t publicize very well. The Sufferfest offers resources to help get the word out for you, and to help keep track of your quest so it can be verified.

This is not for the faint of heart. Plan your quest well. Use plenty of electrolyte drinks, lots of food and a good fan. The Sufferfest points out that you don’t have to go all out on every video, but make yourself proud.

It’s time to plan and train. Have fun with it and your summer season will be the best!

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!