Adventures in life and photography out West

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New adventures 

I’m working a lot lately. Facing some challenges that I’m happy to have. I haven’t posted in a while. Just tying, as I often do, to find time and just do it.

One new challenge is riding rollers. A friend gave me a set about a year ago, but I never got the technique until this week. I hope to get a bunch of miles on the rollers as the winter snow stubbornly hangs on.

Another project has been recording interviews at my local bike shop. Via Bicycle Cafe is the lone dedicated shop in Estes Park and I really want it to thrive.

The shop not only sells Scott, Salsa and Colnago bikes, Stefano Tomasello, the owner, is a pro wrench and a Cat 2 racer. He hopes to gain enough points this season to move up to Cat 1 before ending his competitive cycling career.

The other side of the shop is a great coffee bar. Stef serves locally-roasted Notch Top coffee, as well as a variety of goodies for riders. Stef takes as much pride in making a great cup of coffee as he does working on bikes. I hope to get plenty of rides in with Stef and the bike community that has quickly sprung up around his shop.

I plan to have more on the shop, but until then, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.


A trio from Estes Park pedals toward the Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A trio from Estes Park pedals toward the Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Stefano Tomasello, foreground, points back toward town on the Old Fall River Road. Stef's idea in opening his shop was to provide a hub for the local cycling community.

Stefano Tomasello, foreground, points back toward town on the Old Fall River Road. Stef’s idea for opening his shop was to provide a hub for the local cycling community.


Josh Cramer, left, owner/operator of Notch Top Coffee, and high school cyclist Jeremy Norris, mill about Via Bicycle Cafe last fall. The shop is as much about the cycling community as it is the bikes.

Josh Cramer, left, owner/operator of Notch Top Coffee, and high school cyclist Jeremy Norris, mill about Via Bicycle Cafe last fall. The shop is as much about the cycling community as it is the bikes.


Tomasello brews a cup of coffee in what he describes as a giant Keurig machine. Stef, as he is called by much of the community, is as passionate about coffee as he is cycling.

Tomasello brews a cup of coffee in what he describes as a giant Keurig machine. Stef, as he is called by much of the community, is as passionate about coffee as he is cycling.


Holiday cookies bare Italian national colors and an approximation of the shop jersey. While Via has been open to the public for less than six months, the local community has embraced the shop.

Holiday cookies bare Italian national colors and an approximation of the shop jersey. While Via has been open to the public for less than six months, the local community has embraced the shop.


Jeremy Norris, member of the Estes Park High School mountain bike team, shows off his medal from the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships. Via has quickly become that spot to celebrate achievement and share stories.

Jeremy Norris, member of the Estes Park High School mountain bike team, shows off his medal from the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships. Via has quickly become that spot to celebrate achievement and share stories.


Steven Wens, Belgian national and Estes Park resident, holds a cookie with the Belgian colors at Via after the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships. Cyclists of all abilities have embraced Via for it's friendly vibe, as well as great, locally roasted coffee.

Steven Wens, Belgian national and Estes Park resident, holds a cookie with the Belgian colors at Via after the Colorado State Cyclocross Championships. Cyclists of all abilities have embraced Via for it’s friendly vibe, as well as great, locally roasted coffee.


Stef sits on what has become his shop's trade mark pink couch. As his name implies, Tomasello is Italian, by heritage, and loves the iconic hue of the Giro d'Italia.

Stef sits on what has become his shop’s trade mark pink couch. As his name implies, Tomasello is Italian, by heritage, and loves the iconic hue of the Giro d’Italia.


Stef pulls an espresso shot for an eager customer. In addition to several bicycle brands, Tomasello also sells high-end espresso machines.

Stef pulls an espresso shot for an eager customer. In addition to several bicycle brands, Tomasello also sells high-end espresso machines.


Summer’s end

It’ Labor Day as I write. My daughter is working on her Pintrest and checking e-mail. My main road bike is in Boulder, getting repaired. I put more than 1,000 miles into my legs outside. I wish I could have a lot more, but the positives of the season far outweigh any bad.

New friends from California and Texas.

New friends from California and Texas.

After tackling Ride the Rockies, the Triple Bypass and the Courage Classic in the space of six weeks. There are still plenty of riding weekends left. I need to ride the Old Fall River Road and the Peak to Peak Highway at peak fall foliage. It’s all good.

I have more, but I NEED to get out before I eat all of the training food I just bought.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Second half performance

So I’m cruising across my home state, singing with my family, heading back to our mountain home after my 30-year high school reunion. Realizing how good I have it. Great wife, great kid, great lifestyle. Life is better in so many ways than I imagined in the mid-’80s.

We are at the point in life in which our scars are more entertaining than our trophies. Some of us are still married to our first picks. Some are not. Some look better, some look well-fed. Most seemed pretty happy, though we also took a moment to remember those the class has lost since the last reunion, and found we will likely lose another before the next one.

An old classic hangs in the Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Nebr. there are worse things than being an old classic.

An old classic hangs in the Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, Nebr. there are worse things than being an old classic.

By any measure, we are all at least to the halfway point of this crazy ride of life. None of us will be Olympians, hoist a professional sports champion trophy or compete at the Word Road Championships. We will all keep moving on. I hope to pick up something new.

Friends have suggested to me that I pick up track racing. In fact, a friend suggested this almost 20 years ago. Like so many things, I’ve been slow to take hints and help. At nearly 49, I plan to spend this autumn learning the finer points of fixed-gear racing.

I’m taking the advice of my lovely wife and not comparing myself to today’s pros, heroes of the past or even my own peers. It’s just me vs me. Not the me I was 20 or 30 years ago, or the athlete I could have been, but the best me I can be right now. This should be fun

So, let’s shake off the tough moments from the first half, try to learn a little something and apply that to the second half. Laugh and learn from the mistakes. Be grateful for the experiences. Be grateful that I got this far. Hang on and smile. The next half should be entertaining, as well.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Long Live July!

So, now thoughts change from pink to yellow. I hope everyone has gotten out and enjoyed a few good rides, as well as the start of this year’s Tour. In mid-June, someone flipped a switch. Suddenly, it was absolutely beautiful outside. Thus, began Ride the Rockies.

Seven days and more than 460 miles through the Colorado National Monument, the Grand Mesa, Black Canyon, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Cottonwood Pass. So many great places, views and people.

Dr. Allen Lim looks happy! The founder of Skratch Labs spoke to the RTR riders as well as providing a food truck with food from Lim's cookbooks.

Dr. Allen Lim looks happy! The founder of Skratch Labs spoke to the RTR riders as well as providing a food truck with food from Lim’s cookbooks.

Had a great time from start to finish. I will admit, there were a few moments of suffering. Then, what would an epic adventure be without adversity.

I even got to ride with some amazing riders.

Olympic silver medalist and US Pro Track Champion Nelson Vails in Gunnison.

Olympic silver medalist and US Pro Track Champion Nelson Vails in Gunnison.

Me and Ron

Nelson Vails and Ron Kiefel were on hand to support riders and the Denver Post Communities Foundation. These legends would let you take pictures with them would ride with us and just BS before, after and sometimes during rides.

I had the pleasure of testing at least one cool product; the DT Swiss RC55 Spline C carbon clincher wheels.

DT Swiss Wheels in Gunnison

DT Swiss Wheels in Gunnison

The wheels worked pretty well in windy weather over 96 miles of mostly rolling terrain through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. While the weather certainly had some wet and threatening skies, it never caused braking problems. This was a concern with the carbon brake track and occasional steep, fast descents. No problems. Nothing but confident, fast downhills. The wheels never wobbled, never gave me cause to worry.

The extras I did not get to play with include the very spline mentioned in the wheel’s name. The spline easily pops off for either quick and easy cleaning and servicing or to switch from Shimano/SRAM to Campy cassettes. It takes longer to change an inner tube than the free wheel body. They also have bladed, butted, straight-pull spokes to help with the wind. DT Swiss recommends this set for flats, crits and time trials/triathlons. Though, again, I had no problem on some pretty steep, long climbs.

I also tried out a bunch of new kits from several manufacturers. First, my new Team Estes jersey, in fact the yellow one in the image above. The jersey is the Storm Hybrid Jacket. As you can see in the image, it has no sleeves. They are actually removable, turning it from a warm, water and wind repellent jacket to a pretty sharp jersey. It has a full-length zipper with a nice, comfortable neck guard over the top of the zipper.

As one can see, the jacket is customizable. I picked the color, created the design and sent it all in as an Adobe Illustrator file. Pactimo was wonderful in there help pulling this together, as well as getting it turned around pretty quickly.

I wore this through wet and windy weather. I never felt cold. I never felt clammy. When the clouds parted and the sun came out, It did get a little warm, though I was wearing another jersey underneath. The jersey is warm. No getting around that, but that is the very reason one buys this jacket. It is also race cut. That’s great for racing and if one worries about wind resistance. It’s not so good if you wear anything beyond XL. The jersey I have is an extra large. My club friends and buddies might not enjoy it so much.

I’m gaining two complete Primal brand kits, one of which I am wearing in the image with Nelson Vails, and two more jerseys. Unlike any of the Euro manufacturers, or even the Pactimo, the Primal jerseys tend to be a bit looser, or, perhaps more of a “club” fit. This is something I had noticed, as Primal has made the jerseys for the Courage Classic and the Triple Bypass for a few years.

The graphics all look good. The back pockets are roomy, though in at least one of my, now six Primal jerseys, a top of one of the pockets has come undone.

The fabric, itself, seems cool. It wicks nicely, as well. The zippers seem to work consistently and well for a good long time. Just a little aside. Important if you like details.

All of the Primal bib shorts fit very comfortably.  The leg grippers keep the legs in place. I have a 32-inch inseam at 6-feet tall. The leg length seems about perfect for me. The bib shoulder straps are comfortable, stay put and are a bit denser material. I hope that means they will be in service for several seasons.

The last of my kits is a Champion Systems kit I got from The Sufferfest.

Okay, so I'm a bit of a showoff. Great looking kit, however.

Okay, so I’m a bit of a showoff. Great looking kit, however.

The sleeves are long. This can lead to “pirating”, when the sleeves ride up and bunch at the top of the biceps. Of course, my arms and those of most riders I know, are not normal racer arms. This is definitely a race-cut product, as well. The fabric is plenty picky, if that’s a word. The bibs are a bit less dense, and therefore, a bit cooler than those of Primal. They also have a media-device pocket. It looks a bit small for an iPhone, but was probably made with a race radio in mind. The on my medium bibs hit a little higher than those of the Primal. It could lead to that “Sausage” look. It’s up to you how that might work.

I had a great ride, and I would recommend RTR for anyone. I will have more on all of that later.

Until Then, Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!




May is painted pink on the international cycling calendar. Pink is the color of victory. Pink is the color of triumph. Pink is the color of legend in Italy.

The Giro d’Italia is slated to begin next Saturday along the Mediterranean coast with a team time trial, as this race so often does. For those of us just escaping winter’s icy grip, or those still trying to shake it off, the palm trees of Sanremo are the signs of hope, of the summer soon to arrive. To see the tight, double-paceline of the team time trial blasting past the sea and the swaying palms brings lightness to hearts and freshness to tired legs, as well as a new vision to eyes too long inside on the stationary trainer.

One of Italy’s favorite sons, and 2013 champion, Vincenzo Nibali, has chosen to focus all energies on the Tour this year, so there will be no pink and Astana turquoise this season. Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Sky’s Chris Froome have also decided to skip the Giro to better prepare for the TdF.

All eyes will be on a different Spaniard as El Pistolero, Alberto Contador, attempts the Giro-Tour double. Contador will lead a slightly disheveled Tinkoff-Saxo squad through Italy without the help of master tactician and team founder Bjarne Riis. Riis was jettisoned from the squad after a falling-out with Olag Tinkoff, the team owner. In spite of being the Yankees of the cycling world with such stars as Contador, former two-time Giro champ Ivan Basso and Slovakian sprinter Peter Sagan, the team has little to show for their extravagant payroll. I suppose that makes them more like the Knicks than the Yankees.

A bit of history; the last Giro-Tour double-winner was tragic cycling hero Marco Pantani. Il Pirata took both grand tours in 1998, forever sealing the little climber’s name in cycling lore. Unfortunately, the diminutive, enigmatic Italian was booted from the Giro in 1999 at Madonna di Campiglio, for doping, with one mountain stage remaining and while wearing the Maglia Rosa. He was suspended from competition for the remainder of that season, and while his career never fully recovered, he had enough fire in his heart and his legs to treat cycling fans to an epic battle with fellow doper Lance Armstrong during the 2000 TdF. The little pirate would die of a massive cocaine overdose, alone in a Rimini, Italy, hotel room on St. Valentine’s Day, 2004.

Now I can not officially endorse using the Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette with the top-of-the-line Dura Ace derailleur. One should probably take the advice of the experts and manufacturers and buy the Ultegra long-cage rear derailleur, as it is designed to fit this cassette. So, pay no attention to me when I say WOW DO I LOVE THE WAY THIS SETUP WORKS!

I had a tough Ride the Rockies last year when, on day one, we climbed out of Boulder and up the 11,306-foot Berthoud Pass. Snow and the climb made for achy knees. Day four involved an interminable climb from State Bridge to Avon. My knees have never hurt quite so much. This is when I vowed to get a better climbing gear. So I have.

I actually have all of the proper equipment. I have the Ultegra derailleur in a box in the workshop. I just don’t want to haul it to Boulder to have it put on. I could do the job, but I don’t want to replace cables and housing, for which, again, I would want to travel to Boulder, about 36 miles down the canyon. So far, I have had no shifting issues. I have not taken it out on anything truly steep, yet. I hope to do that next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

While pink is the color of May, July is decidedly yellow. So is my team’s jerseys for July’s Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation Courage Classic. That’s officially how one is supposed to mention the event on first reference. I’ve been in “The Media” for a while. So the Courage Classic is a fund-raising event for the hospital foundation. It’s a great organization, a good cause and probably the best ride I do each year. I mention it now because I need to start raising donations.

The Courage Classic itself is the payoff for raising funds. It’s three days of riding through the heart of Colorado’s ski country, as well as at least one classic route. This year’s ride starts, as it did last season, with the Copper Triangle; 80 miles from Copper Mountain Resort, up to Leadville, the highest town in North America at 10,200 feet, down through Minturn, through Vail, and up the steeper west side of Vail Pass, before plunging back down into Copper.

Day two is a bit different than in years past. This year, riders will start in Copper, zip down the bike path to Frisco and Dillon, around the east side of Lake Dillon, on to Keystone, over Swan Mountain, through Breckenridge, then up Hoosier Pass, then returning to Breck and finishing in Copper.

Day three is relatively short, just about 35 miles from Copper to Breck and back to Copper for the final BBQ party.
If you are interested in joining the team, we are Team Estes and have been together in various forms for six years. We tend to be pretty small, but we have a great time. The ride runs from Saturday, July 18, through Monday, July 20, based out of Copper Mountain Resort in Summit County, Colorado.

Follow this link to donate to our team for the ride. Thanks for your support.

I still have about two weeks before I can test out my new Shimano Sports Camera and its iPhone app. I still have to buy the tiny media card. When I do finally get the card, I will be sure to record one of my favorite descents to test it out, then post here.

Until then, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!

My team's 2015 jersey, by Pactimo.

My team’s 2015 jersey, by Pactimo. My design!

Healing in movement

I am not a great swimmer. I have been working on my swim stroke for more than ten years. It is improving, but still not as smooth as I would like. But ya know what? That’s okay. It works in my favor.

When I’m in the water, whether I am just swimming stroke drills, swimming long intervals or short sprints, I focus on form. I try to feel the water over me. I feel my hand enter the water, pull through and pull out again, all the while, try to remember to kick. When I’m all wrapped up in this, I don’t think of much else.

When I swim, I don’t think of anything else at work, no bill, no work projects. Just the swim stroke. It becomes a moving meditation.

I do this in most of my athletic efforts. I remind myself to strike the ground gently and quietly while running. Stand up straight, lean forward from my ankles, lead with my bellybutton. On the bike it’s all about smooth, fluid circles, flat back, loose grip on the bars.

The meditation helps me. Helps improve my perspective and attitude. Helps remind me to be grateful. I have a lot, and therefor, a lot for which to be grateful.

I have long felt my bike was a tool for healing. It was my freedom as a child. It became that freedom again as a young adult, and continues to offer freedom, wonder, meditative quiet and a sort of healing of the spirit.

I have a buddy named Mark who is taking this to another level. He, too, started cycling at a young age. He had a bike early on in his military career. When things in his life fell apart, cycling would eventually help him fight his demons and give him the chance to help his brothers-in-arms.

Mark will be riding the Ride 2 Recovery Army vs Navy Challenge starting in West Point, New York at the US Military Academy, and ending on October 3, at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, just in time for the Navy vs Air Force football game. The event’s tag line is “Saving Lives by Restoring Hope and Purpose”.

This event gives my friend the opportunity to show how cycling has changed his life and how it might help other former servicemen and women to heal. What better purpose could there be?

The Cobbled Classics and spring Monuments are done. Some of cycling’s heroes didn’t even get to the start line. I have friends who openly lamented the absence of Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara. Paris-Roubaix “Would have been so much better” had the two dominant riders been on the roads of Northern France. Alas, it was not to be. But what did we have?

Paris-Roubaix ended with a five-up sprint in the fabled Roubaix velodrome. I don’t know how it could have been better. Exciting to the very last pedal stroke. Had Spartacus and Tornado Tom been racing, they would have been nearly prohibitive favorites. The two had won seven of the last ten editions. Like it or not, John Degenkolb’s victory was exciting and great fun to watch.

Women are getting more opportunities in the spotlight. Her in the US, they will have big-time races at the same time as the men at both the Tour of California and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. While this might not make household names of the winers, it will get exposure and hopefully encourage more women and girls to get on their bikes and ride.

This sport of cycling, whether competitive or just for fun, is so wonderful. I am signed up for all of my big events for the year. I am riding two of the three with friends, but the longest one, Ride the Rockies, I plan to meet new friends.

2014 Team Estes Shot Photo by Walt Hester Photo by Walt Hester Photo by Walt Hester

Ride the Rockies has been a great experience over the last four years. I’ve met ladies making dinner on their little portable grill in Leadville. I met a woman from the US Virgin Islands. I’ve met cycling heroes and I’ve met people changing the lives of those around them and changing their own. RTR gives me the chance to meet more people, people from all over the US. Racers, Wounded Warriors, enthusiastic neo-pros, retired legends and people just out for a good time, they are all out there. All have great stories and I can’t wait ’til June so I can meet them.

Get into one of the many organized events of the summer. Get out to see the landscape in a different way and with friends you haven’t met. It’s a great way to spend a day, a weekend or a week.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Check, check

I’m still here and I have an idea. I just have to make time to put it through the keyboard. Thanks for you patience. I have a lot to get out about the Spring Classics, women’s racing and my buddy on his quest to ride with other veterans from West Point to the US Naval Academy. Great story. Keep checking back. See you soon.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going shoveling.

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.


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!

Excitement Begins

After almost 500 miles through wind, snow and heat, we still smile!

After almost 500 miles through wind, snow and heat, we still smile!

Been back from vacation for nearly two weeks. My weight is coming down and I’ve received invitations to two of my three big rides for the season. I’m so excited, I just want to get out and hammer!! But I shouldn’t.

After a season dogged by knee pain, I’ve realized a few more easy rides would not be that bad for me. For the last 18 months or so, it’s been all hammer all the time! While that’s great for the cardio system and a great deal of fun, it can lead to over-use problems. I’m in good shape and have at least three months to my first organized event. Now might be a good time to back off the intensity, just a bit, until the knees feel better.

If you are having these issues, I suggest the same. Also, spend some quality time with a foam roller, massage ball or if you can afford it, massage therapist. Sometimes the problem has to do with the sliding tissues in the front of the legs adhering to each other, creating uncomfortable conditions, including the pulling of the knee cap into the joint.

Also, this is the best time of year to have that bike fit re-assessed. Find a reputable dealer and fitter and spend the money. It will result in long-term savings as you won’t have to spend as much on doctors, PT’s and pharmacists. Those long, ambitious rides will be more comfortable. I was grinding up from State Bridge, Colorado, last season, during day four of Ride the Rockies and was considering the sag wagon. Luckily, my fitter from Boulder’s SportsGarage happened to be on course and made a small but pain-relieving adjustment that allowed me to finish the day, as well as the next two. Get it done ahead of time and it won’t throw doubt and pain into your favorite rides and tours.

For more ideas, go to Mobility WOD for more instruction as to keeping the knees happy and healthy. You can also pick up Dr. Kelly Starrett’s “Becoming a Supple Leopard” to have a reference on hand. The book helps athletes take care of a wide range of movement issues, making for happy muscles and joints.

The Santos Tour Down Under begins next week, kicking off the Pro Cycling season. The best news out of this may by all about the women. Many of the big World Tour events are adding women’s events to the line up. The Amgen Tour of California, The USA Pro Cycling Challenge and the biggie, The Tour de France will add women’s events this year. Last year’s women’s event on the final day of the men’s race proved so popular that more stages have been added. This is the best thing to happen to women’s cycling in a long time, and hopefully will continue.

On the personal side, friends of mine invited me to ride the Triple Bypass with them. If you don’t already know, the Triple Bypass is a bucket-list sort of ride. It is 120 miles over three big mountain passes from Evergreen, Colo. to Avon. For the truly hard-core, the organizers, Team Evergreen, added a second day: the same route, only backward! I will save that for another year.

The wonderful Liz Brown of Ride the Rockies contacted me this week, so I will once again, be riding this week-long tour of the Colorado high country. RTR is not the toughest, but is the oldest and most popular of the Colorado tours. RTR celebrates its 30th ride through the mountains and will announce the route at a party in Downtown Denver on Saturday, February 7. If you want to find out early, go to

The route announcement party runs $40 dollars on line, $50 at the door. It’s a great time and I plan to record a good bit of it for a future post.

So get out and ride. Bundle up or spend some quality time with your trainer. The season will be upon us before you know it.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.


The beauty of a new year is the ability to reset. Reset goals. Reset attitudes. Reset our bodies and minds. The last year was as crazy as the one before and I see no sign of it letting up. So I’m buckling up for another great ride.
Fun little segway, I just received my invitation to the 2015 Ride the Rockies Route Announcement Party. This year the kickoff to the training season is Saturday, February 7, at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Last year, the route was a bit of a loupe, beginning in Boulder and heading west and eventually north through Steamboat Springs, before returning to the I-70 Corridor and Golden. The year before was a swing through the Southwest, ending in Colorado Springs. With the major roads of Northern Colorado repaired, for the most part, and awaiting the return of the Pro Cycling Challenge, perhaps RTR will follow suite.
One of the great things about the route announcement is that it creates a tangible path to a goal. I have hit the peak of my winter weight and look forward to the return of longer evenings and longer rides. The route announcement is a solid demarcation between the preseason and preparatory phase and the active, sport specific training phase.
I plan to focus a bit more this year, as I have several big goals in mind. I want to Ride the Rockies again, run the Estes Park Half-Marathon with my wife, enter the Mount Evans Hill Climb and possibly the Double Triple Bipass. This is all on top of the Courage Classic, my favorite annual ride. I hope to train for it using the CrossFit Endurance template, as well.
If you haven’t read my ranting a about CFE, yet, let me quickly sum up: CrossFit Endurance takes the basics of CrossFit, varied high intensity movements, as well as emphasizing skill and form work, to get the most out of a short workout. I should get as much training as I need in about 10 hours a week. I will probably log more time than that as the weather warms simply because I love riding. You get the idea. Right now, however, I’m still trying to take it easy.
Along those lines, I am reading “Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete” by Jef Mallett. Mallett is a cartoonist with a daily strip called “Frazz” and a contributor to Velo and Inside Triathlon magazines. He is humorous and spot-on I his depiction of triathletes, how we think, how we eat, how we live. It is just the right read while waiting for the snow to melt.
I have a lot of projects in mind, so my head is going a lot faster than my typing. Look forward to the coming season. Make plans. Stash a little bit of money for travel and dream fast, lite dreams.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . Soon.


Holiday Blahs

I’m busy doing one of the worst things I can; working in bed. This is when I’m inspired (insert joke here) and when I have time. While bringing my laptop into the bedroom is not good, right now, I don’t feel like it’s the worst thing I’ve done today. It’s Chanukah and I feel like I ate a well-oiled brick.

My wife is Jewish and we agreed a long time ago that we would raise our child, now a 13-year-old, in a Jewish home. Most of the time, I’m okay with that. This time of year, however, is a challenge. Most Chanukah recipes take on an oily sheen. While it tastes good, it’s something my body is not used to, and reacts in anger. Hence, I’m up writing instead of sleeping or even snuggling my wonderful wife.

It’s a double whammy for us age-grouper athletes. Most of our co-workers don’t care what we eat, in fact, often harass us for what they see as odd and tasteless diets. I wish I had a dollar for every time I hear “you don’t need to worry about food . . .”, because they don’t realize by worrying about what I put into my mouth, I look this way. I can’t out ride a bad diet. But there is hope, and a new day.

A fe years back, I had the opportunity to take a “Goal Setting and Positive Self-Talk” seminar with CrossFit Firebreather and DEA agent Greg Amundson. He taught how to catch old bad self talk and turn it around to work for us. He also taught about mantras, short little positive, reinforcing words and phrases to help reenforce the positive self talk. It takes practice, but it works.

I’ve been writing out goals for the coming day and a few affirmations to get me started and keep me going. At night, I review the goals to see how I did.  I also write out five things for which I am grateful. I try not to repeat from day to day, but my wife and daughter usually sneak on to the list. The point is to be positive.

Keep working. Keep positive. Keep passing up the frosted sugar cookies. I’m going riding.


CrossFit Goal Setting. I'm the bald guy in the back. Amundson is the baldly in the front.

CrossFit Goal Setting. I’m the bald guy in the back. Amundson is the smiling baldly in the front.


I am a huge fan of things that last. I have a 15-year-old ‘cross bike. I have a 30-year-old t-shirt that I still wear to the gym. I have the first-generation Shimano SPD/flat pedals on which I raced a couple seasons of downhill. This tends to be an indicator of the future performance of newer products by the same brand.

I put a lot of older cold-weather stuff to the test last week. On Sunday, November 30, the temperature at 7,522 above sea level, where I live, was about 45 degrees. At around 5,400 feet in Boulder, the mercury only claimed to about 23. I was underdressed, if numb toes are any indication. My head, arms and chest were fine, however.

I wore my three-year-old Rapha winter cap. This was not the wool version. This was mostly polyester, black, with the traditional short bill and earflaps. It kept me comfortable as could be expected, managed to wick sweat and did not freeze. Around and on top of this, I wore the Castelli Thermal Head Thingy. If you are not familiar, the piece is a multi-functioning tube of fabric with a fleecy inside. While it can function as a bandana, a skullcap or neck gator, I used it like a balaclava, around my neck, under my chin and over the back of my head, about a third of the way. It sealed out cold air around the edges of the Rapha hat’s earflaps and added an extra layer of protection over my ears. I love it.

Proving money isn’t everything and not all of the most expensive stuff is necessarily the best, my relatively inexpensive Performance brand long sleeve jersey was one of many layers. A 13-year-old Craft wind-blocking shirt was my base layer. The outer-most layer was my six-year-old Specialized winter jacket.

The Performance jersey, the newest of all of my clothing for this ride, has wind resisting fabric in the front and sleeves with warm fleece on the inside. It has a full-length front zipper, three traditional rear pockets, though one pocket had a headphone port and an extra zipper pocket for keys. It also has some reflective accents, but those were not a factor on this ride.

The Craft shirt has a wind-blocking chest section with wicking material throughout. It also has a very long tail which is great when bent over handlebars.

The old Specialized jacket has two huge, zippered back pockets, two front hand pockets and one upper chest zippered pocket, perfect for a phone or music player. Wind and water resistant with vents and more reflective accents.

I have some off-brand lobster gloves, SPA-brand, that I picked up at VeloSwap a few years ago. The first SPA product I baught, shoe covers, did not last long, but then my brand new Castelli neoprene shoe covers are also showing distressing ware less than a year after purchase. The lobster gloves have been great, with synthetic leather palm, long, elasticated gauntlet and fleece fabric on the back of the thumb and first finger, perfect for the inevitable cold-weather runny nose.

Again, I’m only pointing all this out because when the day comes that I have to replace any of this, I would happily shop the same brand to replace the ones I have. If you are in the market for new winter riding clothing, or have a cyclist on your holiday shopping list, check these brands and these clothing pieces out.

Have fun, be safe. I’m bundling up and going riding.

Snotcycles photo

I’m still here

Yes, the name of the post was on purpose. Remind those who follow me, and remind myself, that I’m still writing. It’s also being grateful that I’ve lived to this point.

Spent the evening sobbing on the couch with my daughter and my wife. We watched the movie version of our daughter’s current favorite book, “The Fault in Our Stars.” It’s all about teenagers dying of cancer, how they deal with it and how the people they love deal. I’ve only dealt with glancing blows, as far as cancer is concerned. I suppose I am very lucky in that respect. I still get to make new adventures, write new chapters.

It’s been more than 20 years since a casual friend and coworker died of cancer. He was exceptionally cheery in the short time that we worked together. The cancer originated in his lungs, but traveled pretty quickly. We all found out something was up when he didn’t come to work because he woke up partially blind and paralyzed. The tumor was in his brain. When he came back to work, he wore a Denver Broncos hat to cover the dent in his head from the operation. We asked why the doctors didn’t replace the bit of skull, to which Brian replied it had been infected. He told us he was waiting for a titanium replacement. Already a bike geek at that time, I explained to him that titanium parts counted as cool. I was still amazed, however, how he managed to be so cheery. He had a distinct walk after the brain operation and a divot. He explained that, at that point, he was just happy to wake up and hear birds in the morning. Wow. He died the fall of 1993.

My main job these days, is working with another sort of terminal disease. I work in an addiction rehab. A friend asked me recently, “Do you have a background in counseling?” No, I replied, I have an extensive background in addiction. I laughed, hoping he would not feel awkward about the exchange. I can laugh at that disease, now. The Big Book of AA says, “Why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered and been given the power to help others.” That is what I try to press upon guys. We survived and now have a chance to truly live.

For me, that’s where the bike comes in. I received my first bicycle when I was eight or nine. It was purple with the big banana seat. I jumped off of curbs. I jumped off of ramps. I jumped off of dirt mounds. I stood and climbed up the steeps and raced down the other side. It was my escape. My folks were divorcing and I was mad as hell. The bike gave me relief.

After spending several years chasing other, less productive escapes, I found the bike again. I had very little money, couldn’t afford a car or insurance. I bought a Schwinn High Sierra mountain bike for $800. At the time, it was middle of the road. Steel, rigid and gun-metal gray. Indexed bar shifters on flat bars. Nothing fancy, but the rebirth of freedom, for me. I rode it to work and eventually back to school.

Years later, American Express moved me to Denver from Omaha. I spent most of 18 months staring out my office window at the mountains, counting down the minutes until I could hop on that old Schwinn and hit the trails. It did not take AmEx long to realize that I was fantasizing a lot more than working. They gave me a big check and escorted me out of the building. I used the check to buy a couple more bikes and race a couple seasons. Oh, and I returned to pursuing a BA in Journalism, as well.

I bought a ‘cross bike in 1999. I didn’t plan to race it so much as commute. I lived about 10 miles from downtown Denver where I worked and went to school. I had spent some time driving to downtown Denver but parking was expensive and I became an angry, angry being when stuck in traffic. The bike gave me freedom from that anger. I liked myself a lot more without the vein popping out of my forehead.

I now live in Estes Park where I still have the ‘cross bike, but have long since sold the mountain bikes. I have a regular road bike and a tri/TT bike, as well. New passions. New freedoms.

All of this is possible because I survived. A lot of people, not the least of which were my parents, helped me along the way. I get to feel the cold air on my face. I get to spend 10 minutes rubbing the zinc oxide over my face, head, neck and arms. I get to spend money on bike repairs, occasional body repairs, odd food and clothing. I say I get to because many don’t. They never have the chance.

I don’t write this to guilt anyone into doing anything. I write to remind myself, and anyone who wishes to read this, that this precious life is pretty short and less predictable. No one knows how many days he or she will be allotted. We don’t know what’s next. I don’t know how I managed to get to this age, with his beautiful family in this beautiful town. I feel I’m living a life beyond regulation time. I want to make the most of it.

This is the most important part I like to pass on to the seemingly ship-wrecked souls I meet at the rehab – We have found solid ground. We have a second chance. What do you want to do with it?

I don’t really believe in either heaven nor hell. I have seen hell in many forms and don’t believe in a loving God who would send the tortured to such a place, only to be tortured more. You could try to send me examples of those you feel need to be tortured forever, but I won’t be convinced that there is a place for that.

I believe that when we are done, we are done. Nothing more. I believe that both heaven and hell are places right here. It is up to us to both see this and to make it. My bit of heaven, my salvation, began when I rediscovered the bike. Now I try to use this simple, efficient, elegant machine to bring a bit of paradise to the fellow sufferers who come to this salvation after me.

I hope all who read this are finding their Paradise, their salvation. In this time of Thanksgiving, I hope your hearts, as well as bellies and bike stands, are full.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Zoe and I lounge on the couch.

Zoe and I lounge on the couch.

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A few cool things

While summer is great in the Rockies, cold comes quickly at 7,522 ft., or higher!

While summer is great in the Rockies, cold comes quickly at 7,522 ft., or higher!

The air is getting cooler. I’m enjoying my oatmeal with fruit, almond butter and protein powder. Occasionally, motivating to get out and ride can be challenge. I have to really psych up to get out when it’s 40 degrees and raining. Sometimes, a cool new gadget or clothing will do it.

Last July, I swung by an Apple Store in one of the sprawling suburbs between Denver and Boulder and bought a Wahoo Fitness RFLKT, a sort of monitor for my fitness apps on my iPhone.Initially, it was kind of a pain. It has a wonderful display, large at 2.4″x1.6″. It takes a bit to get threw the setup and you need the Wahoo Utility and Wahoo Fitness apps. Even then, you have to be careful to make sure your Bluetooth is on before you turn your RFLKT on or, at least with the original firmware, the device can lock up. I had to have an extra power booster as the Bluetooth and GPS connection sucked down my iPhone battery pretty quickly. When it works, however, it does so beautifully.

The readout seems a bit slower than the old magnet-on-wheel bike computer, as the device depends on the GPS connection on your iPhone. The big numbers and custom screens are very easy to read. I had a gripe about their mounting brackets, but that has been remedied, as well, as Wahoo’s customer service is fantastic.

The first mounting devices required a small metal tool to get the RFLKT out if I wanted to switch from, for example, the handle bar mount on my road bike to the stem mount on my tri bike. I contacted Wahoo fitness to request another little metal tool, as I lost the first one, and to ask about an error message and Megan Powers of Wahoo Fitness Support got back to me via e-mail the same day. After analyzing my issue, Megan sent me the re-designed mounts, which only require that you have thumbs, as well as a new battery, as the error message thought I needed a new one. I can’t say enough about the great customer service of Wahoo. At $99, the reflect is competitive with the more traditional bike computers and a lot less expensive than the Garmin offerings.

Wide screen, big numbers and multiple, thumb-tab mounts makes the Wahoo RFLKT a great product.

Wide screen, big numbers and multiple, thumb-tab mounts makes the Wahoo RFLKT a great product.

I have become enamored by the Castelli Gaba convertible jacket. I saw several during our chilly Ride the Rockies this year. I purchased the NanoFlex knee warmers, made of essentially the same fabric, and they have been pretty great. Well, it seems a lot of people, including several other bike clothing manufacturers, like the Gaba jacket. It is designed to be wind-proof, water-proof and yet breathable, as well as having removable long sleeves. Pactimo, a Colorado company, has their own jacket that I hope to get my hands on at some point this winter. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Loving it

I’m running behind, but having fun. At’s been several weeks since the USA Pro Challenge but I have several images still. Some don’t have Jens Voigt in them. Can you get this close to pros in any other sport? Not likely. We, the adoring fans, can also enjoy riding on more or less the same course as the heroes. I don’t get to play hockey in the Pepsi Center. My tennis fan friends don’t get to play center court at Wimbledon. I have actually touched these guys, as well as having ridden some of the same roads.

So, without further delay. . .

Alex Howes Fan of France Jens Tejay Tommy D Sweeping Through Phinney rolls Lil Champ King of Pain


27EPLPht JensJensJens


German and man of the world, Jens Voigt, receives a send-off worthy of a king from fans before the start of Sunday’s final stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Boulder, Colorado. After 18 professional racing seasons, 17 Tours de France and countless souls crushed, Voigt hung up his race wheels for the last time after Sunday’s race finish.

Here we go, one last time

So the USA Pro Challenge is set to start today with the circuit between Aspen and Snowmass. The stage was so popular last year that the organizers brought it back this year. While that returned this season, at least one fixture of the peloton won’t be back next year.

Lunchbox-hero Jens Voigt will ride one last race, the Pro Challenge, then hang up his bike as a pro. The Jensie grew up in the old East Germany and has been a pro since 1997 and has worn the coveted yellow jersey of the Tour on two occasions. Two years ago, Jens won an epic breakaway stage from Aspen, over Independence Pass and all the way into Beaver Creek.

Jens has made his career sacrificing for his team leaders. This, and his easy-going personality, has made him a world-wide fan favorite. No one attacks more. No one suffers better. No one stands around and chats with fans quite as much as Jensie.

Good luck this week and enjoy your time with the family in retirement. And thanks for the memories.

RadeoShack rider and fan favorite Jens Voigt leans through the turn off of Broadway onto Colfax Avenue in Denver on Sunday. Voigt was quoted as loving Colorado race fans as much as they love him as the fans are also riders and know what it's like to suffer through the mountain climbs.

RadeoShack rider and fan favorite Jens Voigt leans through the turn off of Broadway onto Colfax Avenue in Denver on Sunday. Voigt was quoted as loving Colorado race fans as much as they love him as the fans are also riders and know what it’s like to suffer through the mountain climbs.

A new life


“This is my first organized ride,” says the guy on the next sleeping bag over.

We’re in the relatively plush ballroom in Steamboat Springs after the longest day of Ride the Rockies and the place is pretty quite, as most are out enjoying the sunshine.

“Oh yay? What possessed you to do this ride for your first?” I ask, expecting some kind of self-help related story from the forty-something. What Chris White shared would be a lot more than most would overcome in a lifetime. To a degree, I suppose you could say, this is his second lifetime. He intended to make the most of it.

“I was in a car accident that killed my grandmother,” White said, “I broke my neck, C2. It’s commonly called the hangman’s break.”

White suffered two heart attacks in the hospital as a result of the trauma. After that, the heart issues, combined with some bad habits and a stressful career, combine to do more damage.

“I was a chef for a private club. I worked for Duke University and University of North Carolina for a combined 10 years,” White explained, “I was offered positions in Hawaii and Denver. I chose Denver.”

A chef’s eating schedule is erratic, at best. It gets interrupted and chefs will make quick and bad eating decisions. This lifestyle can quickly devolve into poor health and obesity. If a heart is already damaged, stress can make matters worse. White’s heart became enlarged and developed an arrhythmia. He suffered congestive heart failure in his mid 40s in 2011, requiring surgery. After he took steps to restore his heart beat to normal, White realized he had a second chance.

“I could restore my heart to the condition of a 20-year-old, if I wanted.”

And Whited wanted. After recovery, White took steps to take control and lessen stress. He discovered road cycling, or fell in love with it, while volunteering at last season’s USA Pro Challenge final stage in Denver. While watching the event, White met sprinter Peter Sagan’s personal assistant. 

“She was so impressed with my story that she took me to meet Peter. After all he had done, all he accomplished, he stood up and congratulated me.”


Shortly after, White decided he would go all-in.

“I moved to Deckers for the altitude training and fly fishing,” White explained, “I work for a little mom-and-pop place, now.”

This after working as a banquet chef for the Denver Country Club. His eating has changed, as well.

“I realized I had to have the right food for energy. With clean living, exercise and diet, I lost 120 pounds in 17 months.”

White credits his new routine, including eating breakfast regularly and a lot of two-wheel time.

“I’m usually up about 5 or 5:30 am. I make my power breakfast and am out to ride by 6:15.”

Breakfast often consists of a breakfast burrito with plenty of fresh spinach, oatmeal and fresh fruit. White likes a salad with beans for lunch, post ride. His ride is usually 30-60 miles on the roads between Deckers, Woodland Park and Sadalia, Colorado. White embraced the new life style, and while he lost lots of weight, he gained a bit more than he expected.

“I’m able to process stress better on the bike. Time doesn’t exist,” he explained. “I also have epilepsy, and through cycling and exercise, I’ve been able to manage the stress and triggers.”

So now, the chef who should have died years ago has a new life and wants to share it with others.

“If you can identify your triggers and manage them, you can live a life free of seizures and medications,” but he was quick to add, “not always, but sometimes.”

The anti-seizure drugs given to epilepsy patients can make them lethargic. This can quickly snowball into obesity, especially in children and adolescents. White hopes to help kids see cycling as a possible alternative to medication.

Thanks to his new found love of riding, he has also found new friendships. White entered Ride the Rockies alone, but he quickly found he would not be lonely.

“I don’t think I have ever fallen in love with 2,000 people so quickly,” White smiles a dimpled grin. “It’s an instant feel of family. Everyone is in this together. Everyone has a unique story. There are people from all over the world. Everyone, I believe, is on a personal journey but having this many people together with the same mind set is truly amazing.”

In the five days that we are together, White makes friends easily. He has a warm smile and personality to match. He charms the Jamaican ladies at a little taco stand in Steamboat Springs. He easily converses with frame-building legend Kent Ericksen, founder of Moots cycles and his own brand, Ericksen Bikes. White makes friends with the traveling yoga instructor, even receiving an invitation to teach some cooking. Nothing would compare, however, with the evening in Avon. White shared his big goal with me.

“I’ve signed up with the USA Pro Challenge Experience. I would like to ride with Chris Carmichael’s team and do all seven stages of the Pro Challenge.”

I met Carmichael during last year’s RTR and thought, what ever I could do to help White would be good. Carmichael was the Cycling Seminar speaker in Avon on the ride. I spoke to Carmichael, hoping he might remember me. I explained that White had a story that the coach needed to hear. Carmichael gave me his card to give to my new friend and explained he, White, needed to hurry. Space was filling fast.

I saw White moments later and pointed him in Carmichael’s direction. He returned nearly in tears.

“He said they’re going to work with me on the fee. He said they want me on the team. This has changed my life.”

After a lot of hugs, I reminded him that he did the work. This was the happy payoff.

White has a few more things he wants to do. White would love a lighter bike. He would like a bit of new technology. He would also like to find balance. It will all come. He’s not afraid of the work. White has done so much so far. Blood work looks great and he feels it is all due to his work on the bike. For the price of near death, he has been given a new life and a new purpose.

“I spent years after breaking my neck and the hear issues trying to figure out why I was here,” he explained. “I think that God put me hear to help kids with epilepsy. I feel the mind is so powerful that if you believe and you have faith, you can overcome anything.”

Chris White is proof positive. Very positive.





The good is out there

imageThis sport, this lifestyle, it changes lives. It can certainly bring out the very best in people. It adds fitness and fun but it can add purpose and inspiration. This sport and this Ride the Rockies can transform people. I have met some great people and seen many new places in the three editions of RTR that I have ridden. I have seen parts of this adopted state of mine which I had not seen. I have met legends of cycling and everyday people out doing what they love. One me guy I met in Steamboat Springs points out that we spend a week moving around Colorado with 2,000 like-minded people. By the end of the week, we are a huge family. It’s a beautifle thing. From the the young lady from Boston on her first ride to the former pro rider out on his umpteenth tour, everyone has a story of how they fell in love with cycling. In the next few days, I will share some. Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.

Time Flys!

I just realized it’s been nearly six weeks since my last post. Mia Copa! Obviously, I have not developed the good habit of finding a writing day and sticking to it.

I plan to over-compensate soon. Ride the Rockies is nearly upon us! A week from today, Sunday June 8, I will be on my bike and enjoying the scenery of the Boulder Canyon, Peak to Peak Highway and the climb through Empire and over Berthoud Pass. The grand plan for that week is to post something every day, as well as getting videos up. Really going to test my 1tb harddrive I just installed in my MacBook.

I will also be posting to my FB page, as I will have the iPhone with me. I hate to admit it, having been a pro photographer for so long, but it is a great little tool. Short videos and photos can be posted immediately. Fun stuff.

I also plan to add some photos to this blog page soon. Bear with me, and thanks for continuing to read. Next week will be great.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!!

Moving Forward

So, I’m a little wiped out and getting pretty inconsistent with my posts. Sorry. It’s hard for me when I don’t have an editor asking me where the hell my column is. I still hold out hope that I will work into some consistency as I go.

I headed up Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, Colorado, last week. The climb has long been a yardstick for locals. Tommy Danielson is credited with the fastest ascent of the five-mile climb from the pillars just west of US Hwy 6 to the gates at Buffalo Bill’s grave; I believe it’s something ridiculous, like 15 MINUTES. For mere mortals like me, the 32 minutes it took me was blazing fast.

Generally speaking, locals like to time “Pillars to Post” from the stone pillars at the bottom to the sign announcing the grave at the top. Officially, it’s 4.55 miles. It averages 5.4% with a maximum grade of 6.8%. Riders like to cut it into thirds – pillars to where the road curves under the big School of Mines “M”, “M” to the Windy Saddle and the steepest section from the saddle to nearly the sign at the top. The ride is nearly always windy and the views are nearly always spectacular.

The descent is fast and technical. Be careful when riding in spring. I carry scars from misjudging gravel in the tight curves. Once back in Golden, refreshment options are plentiful. It’s worth the suffering.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!


The pillars at the start of the Lookout Mountain climb.Image

The view from the Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum Gift Shop at the top. You can see the entire Denver metro area.

The big tease

It’s February on the Front Range side of the Rockies. Lots of snow this year and lots of cold, keeping the snow in place. It’s so cold, I don’t really want to even go to the garage for my trainer. The positive side is that I continue to recover and heal from last season. I also have plenty of time to read. Which is good.

I have three new books I’m working through: two fitness and mobility and one history. I received and started reading Becoming a Supple Leopard, by Dr. Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza as well as Power, Speed, Endurance, by Brian Mackenzie. For you Crossfitters, you will recognize the names. Both believe form and technique are all-important. The pair also host a web-show called “Genetic Potential” ( The two books have already been helpful in my weight lifting. I look forward to better weather so I can put some of the “Skill-based approach to endurance training” into action.

Both of these books are pretty big. They are also relatively pricy, $60 for Starrett’s book and $40 for Mackenzie’s, but both are worth their weights in gold.

The history, or perhaps exposé, is Wheelmen by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell. It takes a close look at the Armstrong/EPO era of cycling and the USPS domination of the Tour de France due at least in part to their massive doping conspiracy. I have not gotten too far in it so far, but it has been pretty good.

I picked up a new pair of Specialized Expert road shoes this week; part of the reason I am impatient for warmer weather. Specialized shoes have always fit my feet better. I have tried any number of shoes, both in-store and out on the road and trail. Pearl Izumi shoes are fine, but like many, don’t fit my forefoot very well. Sidi are spectacular, but expensive. Specialized fit well, have plenty of stiffness and are a great bargain. The Expert level is, for me, the best bang for the buck. At $200, they are not cheap. They are, however, noticeably stiffer than the Comp level shoe, which is $40 cheaper. They are not as stiff as the Pro or S-Works level, but $75 less than the Pro and half the price of the S-Works.

As most of my road riding is recreational, I don’t need a Pro or S-Works shoe. I do, however, like a good, stiff shoe when climbing the Rockies, which is just part of living in this part of the world. While I got a cool white shoe last time, I quickly realized why we mere mortals don’t usually get white cycling shoes: schmutz. They got dirty in a big hurry. I got black this time around. This is not the only difference between the two, either. Like so many things, these days, the trickle-down from the top models of years past has made today’s Expert shoe better than even the Pro or S-Works of years ago.

This year’s Expert has the Colorado-made Boa closure, making a very exact and custom fit. The shoes tighten with a sort of microfiliment, like a fishing line, wound around a small spool. Twist the little knob to tighten and pull up to loosen. It’s the technology that was only on the top-of-the-line shoe a few years back. I’m looking forward to riding with them . . . some day.

Still snowing. Makes me wish for warmer climates . . . like perhaps Jamaica. Okay, kind of a clumsy transition, but it works. A high school buddy of mine lost his job at the worst of the economic down-turn a few years back. He had been smart with his money up to that point, so he had a chance to start a charity, along with his Jamaican-born wife. Randy and Sonia Duncan-Boba founded the EAASY Foundation to bring “Empowerment through Athletic and Academic Support of Youth.” While the foundation funds local programs throughout the world, their hearts are clearly in Jamaica. Check out their fundraiser jersey. You may have to hit “Download” after you connect with the Dropbox page. It’s a bit expensive, but without a doubt, it’s for a great cause. They go for $150, on par with many top-of-the-line jerseys, and this one is put together by Fast Freddie, the new cycling clothing brand by current US road champion, Fast Freddie Rodriguez. $25 dollars from each sale goes to the foundation.

So this also leads into my own fundraising endeavor; The Courage Classic! This is the 25th year of the ride that raises money for Children’s Hospital Colorado. The last few editions have featured route changes, due to sink holes and carcinogenic insulation removal. Who knows what this year’s route will be, other than great fun. The ride is the icing on the cake. The whole point, and the competitive side, is the raising of money for the hospital foundation. They require a $300 minimum of donations to ride, but that really is not much. Get involved, or at least donate. I will have a link to my team’s page in two weeks.

One last bit of business. My intervals between posts have gotten kinda long. I apologise. I am taking on some more challenges. I’m still part-time with the newspaper up here, as well as full-time with my new gig, Harmony Foundation, leading two Spinning classes a week and photographing the occasional wedding, I am also taking classes to become a Certified Addiction Counsellor. If you’ve known me for a while, you already know I have the background for this. As a result, these posts will be shorter for a little while. I still have plenty of fun lined up for this, so please don’t go away.

Have fun, be safe. I’m going studying . . . then riding!

Jersey by Pactimo . . . more on them next time.

Jersey by Pactimo . . . more on them next time.