Stoke the Fire
So, I love food. Just in general. I have a sweet tooth, but I also love Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian. I love French pastries and cowboy cookies. I love breakfast.
I once dated a wonderful, beautiful, smart young woman, but knew it was ultimately doomed. It was getting to be late in the day and I asked what she wanted for dinner, thinking that we could go out that evening. She showed absolutely no preference. I started quizzing her on her favorite cuisine. She said, “I’m just not that in to food.”
By contrast, the first big family function I attended with the woman to whom I am now married, was Passover. It’s a big, really big, meal commemorating the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt depicted in the Torah, or Old Testament. I think it was her mother who informed me that the basis for all Jewish holidays was “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”
So it should be no surprise that a major part of my Instagram feed is the stuff I get to make in my kitchen. I spend a fair amount of time finding yummy stuff in uniquely athletic places. I made egg cups of two varieties today. One was based on a recipe from the fantastic Scratch Labs cookbook, Feed Zone Portables, the other I stumbled across on line. Both are easy, both are tasty, both recipes are great for active, age-group athletes.
I typically spend Sundays cooking. I get up early to make breakfast for my family. Today I made baked oatmeal with bananas and berries. I took the extra step of adding a scoop of vanilla protein powder, just so it wasn’t all carbs. I cooked up some uncured turkey bacon, as well. It was filling, tasty, and made my family happy.
Next, we usually get started on lunches for the week. Egg cups for me, and we usually make a batch of chocolaty fiber muffins for our daughter.
The first, a variation from Allen Lim and Biju Thomas, the minds behind Scratch Labs. I change the recipe slightly, so If you want the original, go to SkratchLabs.com, or go out and get ahold of the Feed Zone Portables cookbook.
Pre-heat oven to 350
Chop desired vegetables for a dozen cups
I will also find some lean meat, like a turkey kielbasa, left-over turkey bacon, if I’m lucky we’ll have some ground bison
Distribute these evenly into a dozen muffin cups. We happen to have the silicone muffin “tins”
Then add one egg-worth of liquid egg whites into each cup
Put in oven, middle rack
Bake for about 20-30 minutes, turning every 5-8 minutes
For a sweeter option, pre-heat oven to 390
Mash three ripe bananas
Add two whole eggs, three more egg-worth of liquid egg whites and mix
In the muffin tins, place berries
Pour in egg/banana mixture
Bake, again, for 20-30 minutes, turning the tin every 5-8 minutes
I honestly don’t remember where that recipe came from, other than my Facebook feed. I look for great food everywhere. I read Peloton magazine knowing that they will have some great meal they discovered somewhere on their travels. I have a small sleeve on my book shelf of recipes I’ve found in Bicycling or Triathlon magazines.
When I travel, whether on vacation or on my bike, I try to find some local gem, like Pandor, a French pastry and breakfast place in New Port Beach, California. If you don’t know, there is a little pastry and coffee shop in the La Fonda Inn in Santa Fe. Some of the best cookies I have ever enjoyed were from the little breakfast restaurant in Hygiene, Colorado.
I suppose that the point of this post, more than anything, is to enjoy. The vast majority of us will not get to be pro roadies. We don’t have to season stone soup in order to be happy skeletons and climb ridiculous European roads like mountain goats. Most of us have jobs and families. While I want to drop some holiday weight, I won’t do it at the expense of enjoying my family and my life. I exercise lots, and very hard. I will stoke my engine. I will taste the flavors that this short, wonderful life has to offer.
I hope you will, too.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . right after this cookie!
The rest of the story
When we left our heroes, they were being buffeted and blown all over Trail Ridge Road’s highest points by gale-force winds . . .
We were never so happy to get down and back into trees. And while the wind persisted all the way into Estes Park, it was never so bad as on the alpine tundra.
Riders arrived just in time to see one of my favorite weekly events, the Estes Valley Farmers Market, as the market was closing for the day. The town wanted to make room for the riders events later in the evening.
Local bands, including Amplified Soul, performed for the riders as local venders offered their wares. It was fun but it was a brief night, as most riders were tired from the short but challenging day through the park.
Donald at the Estes Valley Farmers Market.
Amplified Soul plays at the RTR event in Estes Park.
This particular stop was the whole reason I could not resist the pull of RTR this year. This was the chance to show off my little town. I have lived in Estes Park for 16 years and love promoting it. I also got to sleep in my own bed, and offer Donald a spare bed. It made for a wonderful night’s sleep ahead of the Grand Arrival, the final day of riding.
The last day of RTR2016 was a relatively short 51 miles. Starting in Estes Park, we rolled down the Big Thompson Canyon. The long line of riders snaked and plunged through the canyon, tracing the Big Thompson River until the famous and popular Masonville ride. Riders ambled through the countryside west of Loveland toward Horsetooth Reservoir. Then, the final climbs.
Horsetooth consists of four hard, steep, short climbs. All of them between 6-10 percent. A bit of a sting in the legs. After the last descent around the north end of the reservoir, riders enjoyed a sort of precession through the beautiful neighborhood on Mountain Avenue, eastward into Old Town Fort Collins. We rolled into O’Dell Brewery for food, entertainment and closing festivities.
Donald Lewis and the author pose at the finish in Fort Collins.
After a week of riding and more than 400 miles, we had arrived; tired, short on sleep and as happy as we could be. The arrival is always bitter-sweet.
We see each other for one week, once a year. We share stories, we catch up on lives outside of the tour, and for a week, we are a large, rolling family reunion. When we roll into the final stop, we have to say our good-byes.
Betsy, the Tour Assistant.
Renee, Community Relations Manager.
Liz, the Event Coordinator.
One good-bye was going to be a bit more permanent. Tour Director Chandler Smith was stepping down after eight years. Chandler challenged riders and adapted to last-minute challenges, himself. Just in my five additions, Chandler had to change two tour routes due to wildfires, and had to sag riders all along the Berthoud Pass climb on the first day of the 2014 RTR. He has served us well and advanced the RTR, improving the event and, hopefully, improving relations with the beautiful little towns in this amazing state.
Ride the Rockies has been a great tour for a long time. Each rout, even when closely paralleling previous routs, offer a new adventure. Chandler, Renee, Liz, Betsy and the army of volunteers, once again, gave riders a week to remember, about which to reminisce, and stories to retell.What more could we want. Thanks for the memories, and may luck smile on you, Chandler.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
One More Time!
Saturday, February 6, was the day of the Ride the Rockies Route Announcement Party. For the second time in five years, Ride the Rockies will traverse the highest paved highway pass road in North America, Trail Ridge Road. I’m excited because, of course, the “Big Road” is in my back yard, almost literally. It’s a relatively short route, at 403 miles over six days, but it’s also going to be beautiful!
The route will closely resemble the one I first rode, five years ago. This one begins in beautiful Carbondale on Sunday, June 12. Day one rolls from Carbondale to the famous ski town of Aspen. Chandler and the crew are easing us into the race as the two towns are only 50 miles apart. Mile for mile, however, it is a stunning ride.
The ride rolls down the Roaring Fork River along a trail that runs from Glenwood Springs to Aspen past the Maroon Bells. Of course, one would need to take a side trip to get the beautiful view.
Day two, Monday, June 13, might be the Queen Stage, beginning in Aspen, riders nearly immediately start the 85-mile day climbing. And this is not just any climb. This is 19 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. It averages somewhere in the neighborhood of 5%. The last three miles are the worst at around 7% to the top of Independence Pass. After that, it’s a fast dive down to Twin Lakes.
From the lakes, riders take a left and head to the highest incorporated town in North America, Leadville, at 10,152 feet. This year, the ride passes through on to Fremont Pass, 12 miles averaging 1.5%, maxing out at 7% and 11,318 feet. Riders bomb down the north side of the pass into Copper Mountain Resort.
For the past two RTRs, the ride has taken an extra day in one of the towns. Two years ago, we stayed an extra day in Steamboat Springs. Last year, we rode from Grand Junction, through the Colorado National Monument and back. This season, Day 3, June 14, the route takes an extra day in Copper Mountain Resort to tackle the Copper Triangle. The 78-mile route takes riders back over Fremont Pass, past Leadville, over Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass, over the Red Cliff Bridge, through Minturn and Vail and finally over Vail Pass before returning to Copper.
On Day 4, June 15, riders descend a snaking bike trail from Copper to Frisco, past Dillon Lake, through Silverthorn and north to Ute Pass. Four years ago, Chandler and the gang took riders over gravel roads into Kremmling. The route is now part of RTR lore. This time around, riders will see some of those same roads, eventually taking riders into the remote resort town of Grand Lake. This is tied with Day Two as the longest-milage day at 85 miles.
This takes us to Day 5, June 16, and the whole reason that I can’t possibly miss this ride. It’s a short day at only 49 miles, but it’s over the famous Trail Ridge Road; more than 20 miles of climbing at around 4.5% to over 12,100 feet above sea level. The climb takes riders from the shore of Grand Lake, through arid pine meadows, through aspen stands, past the habitat of moose, elk and big horn sheep, eventually out onto the alpine tundra. Riders enjoy views of the Never Summer Range, the Continental Divide, Forest Canyon, Rock Cut, as well as the Alpine Visitor Center, Rainbow Curve and the fast, winding descent into my town, Estes Park.
Home of the world-famous, and slightly creepy Stanley Hotel, Estes Park made a big deal out of hosting the 2012 RTR. My town had a big party with local musicians and great food. My town knows how to entertain.
As luck would have it, the ride comes through Estes Park on a Thursday, which is Farmers’ Market Day, so be sure to swing by Bond Park as you arrive to get some refueling goodies.
Come see our town, our fun and my favorite bike shop, the Via Bicycle Cafe! Come get coffee, pie, BBQ, all great in Estes Park. Yes, I’m biased, but I love this town and you will, too.
Riders enjoy Friday, June 17, Day 6’s mostly-downhill ride out Devils Gulch and the Switchbacks, through Glen Haven, through local rider-favorite Masonville, around Horsetooth Reservoir and finally, into Fort Collins.
The six-day ride will reward any rider fit enough to make the journey, with vistas, new friends and great stories. I love this ride and would urge any rider to register the lottery before February 28. The organizers, Chandler Smith, Renee Wheelock, Liz Brown and an army (that’s no exaggeration) of volunteers, work hard to put on a great ride and I have never been disappointed. It will be the most challenging, most enjoyable week of your riding season.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going training!
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 http://ridetherockies.com/.
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.
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.
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.
The view from the Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum Gift Shop at the top. You can see the entire Denver metro area.
I’m on the couch, with my winter tights on, watching Stage One of the Tour Down Under, getting excited about the eventual coming of spring. While we have sunshine here at 7,522 feet, clouds are building and snow is on the way. It’s January. What do you expect?
I’m starting to receive invitations to all of the great summer rides: Ride the Rockies, Elephant Rock, Copper Triangle. I also have a new ride. After crushing my frame last year, a horrible roof-rack related incident, I picked up a frame at VeloSwap in October. SportsGarage hung my Dura-Ace 9000 parts on it and I’m ready to ride . . . when the weather is. I have plenty of warm clothing, so that should be today.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to ramp up my training. The CrossFit Open registration opened last week. I intend to participate. It is great for both building strength and stamina, as well as fulfilling me need to compete. I have been hurt doing CrossFit, but nothing worse than putting equal intensity into my riding.
I have a buddy who decries CrossFit, stating it’s dangerous and that you will suffer a serious injury doing it. That is not my experience over the last five years. My posture has improved, my knees feel better, my shoulders feel better, when I ride hard, I recover faster than I used to, and when I crash, and I do occasionally crash, the injuries are not as bad. While your results may very, I’ve had great trainers with a focus on form and technique. The folks at CrossFit Estes Park have been fantastic. By the way, it seems to work for Evelyn Stevens.
While I acknowledge that CrossFit is not for everyone, neither is P90X, mixed martial arts, self-coaching or, for that matter, beer. Not everyone who drinks beer developed a problem. I do. Just because I have a problem with beer does not mean I will bash beer, in general. I just won’t drink. If you have a bad coach, in any discipline, you will likely get hurt. If you have a good coach, you will be built up slowly and taught good technique and form and you won’t get hurt. Pretty simple.
Well, the historic September floods in Colorado have severely limited the riding opportunities around Northern Colorado. The Big Thompson Canyon between Estes Park and Loveland is closed to cyclists. Much of the pavement from Drake in the canyon to Glen Haven is still missing. Even the Peak to Peak Highway has signs state “Ride at your own risk” for cyclists. It’s a sad state. It could be a year or more before the canyons are back to normal. Hopefully, with the rebuilding, some routes might be better.
In Colorado, the law states that whenever a road is rebuilt, it is required to have a wider, rider-friendly shoulder. This is something that would never have happened in much of the foothills without the disaster. Neither money nor political will was evident in improving the roads to be bike-friendly. Ironically, the very thing that mountain folk dislike about cyclists, getting in their way, could be remedied by the improvements.
Much of the Peak to Peak Highway in Larimer County, and most of the North St. Vrain Canyon, aka US 36, were without shoulders, putting riders into the lane of traffic. While perfectly legal, drivers often took exception to the relatively slow pace of cyclists, especially when traffic was heavy in both directions. A legitimate shoulder should help. I hold out hope.
Meanwhile, I’m off to my first outdoor ride of the year on the new steed. I hope you have the chance to do the same.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
The volunteers and staff of the 2013 Ride the Rockies in Salida. May we see you all again soon!
I’m sitting on my coach enjoying my DVD of the ’04 Tour. Everything that has hurt for most of the season has finally gotten to the point when I have made an appointment with a proper medical professional. I’ve written about how frustrated I get when I can’t ride or lift. Thanks to my wonderful daughter, however, I have an alternative.
I’ve been telling anyone who would listen how much I’ve enjoyed swimming with my little 12-year-old mermaid. I may have a year before she’s faster in the water than I am. It is a fabulous thing to see her excel at an athletic endeavor. Now, I’m swimming more as it’s pretty much my only outlet. Pain in knees, shoulder and back have eliminated my favorite exercises, CrossFit and, of course, cycling. Of course, our high temperature of 5 degrees also sucks all motivation out of the outdoor cycling idea. The water in our local poo was better than 80 degrees. Warm after walking in from single-digit temps.
Swimming, by it’s very nature, leads me to stretching out and focusing on my hallow body position, a position I am required to hold quite often while lifting. The focus on position is also an exercise in meditation. It is calming. It also motivates me to sign up for the http://www.lovelandlaketolake.com/text/information.html. It’s my favorite tri in the area. It’s long enough to be challenging. It’s pretty enough that participants won’t be bored. When it’s all done, they organizers have the best feed of any race. Four years ago, the last time I was able to race, they had a build-your-own-breakfast-burrito bar. Giant brownies included. The organizers have also done their best to keep the entry fee relatively low. You can jump in for $85 now, $105 a little closer to the race day. Compare that with the Boulder Peak Tri, same distance, $100 now, $125 if you wait. Still, not that bad if you look at the Boulder Ironman, $675, had you signed up in time, $1,350 right now.
The Lake to Lake is a swim in Loveland Lake, about 35 miles on the bike from Loveland High School to Ft. Collins’ Horsetooth Reservoir, the other lake in the race’s name, and back. Then, a 10K around Loveland Lake. More shade than the Boulder races, better food than any race I’ve done and great for the price.
I did get one new piece of cycling clothing. I haven’t worn it outside, yet, but it’s been cold here at 7,522 feet, so I’ve worn it quite often. The Castelli Thremo Head Thingie is like the “Buff”, only with thermal fleece inside. It can be worn like a bandana, a balaclava, a neck gater or beanie. The packaging has instructions so anyone can figure out how to twit and tug at the tube of stretchy, warm fabric into whatever a rider might need.
A warm and versatile piece of clothing.
Next time, with any luck, I’ll be able to write about my homemade Plyometrics box. The owner of my gym won’t let me jump up on the clutters, anymore, so I had to make a box.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going swimming.
‘Tis the season
So, (and I do that specifically because may editor tells me that I shouldn’t) I’m sitting on my couch, trying not to bolt out the door and ride for the next couple hours. I’m watching last summer’s CrossFit games, eating a whole lot of trail mix and drinking my usual gallon of coffee. I’m still working on healing a niggling knee issue. I’ve ordered a pair of Kelly Starett’s Voodoo Floss compression bands. It’s not easy doing the off season. I recently received the CyGo Lite Explorer 800. I’ll be honest, I think this was designed more for trail riding as it is so bright and so wide. It’s a great light for commuting after dark. I’ve spotted bears, deer and stray children as I’ve pedaled home. It is so much better than the lights I used years ago (the ’90s) when I first commuted by bike. The battery is rechargeable Li-Ion, and lasts better than an hour at the highest setting. I attach the light to my helmet with the battery in the pocket of my backpack. It comes with a long extra power cord for just such a situation. The lamp part, itself is the smallest that Cygo Lite makes, so it works very well as a helmet light. This is a great product that runs about $190 normally, but often goes on sale for $150. It works exceptionally well when teamed with the CygoLite 700 on my handle bars.
Well, snow is in the weekend forecast, which reminds me, the USA CycloCross National Championships are around the corner and down the hill from me. The Valmont Bike Park in lovely Boulder Colorado will be the venue. ‘Cross is a great spectator sport. The whole course is set up so fans can see it all from nearly any point along the course. Imagine short-course mountain biking on modified road bikes, that gets you close. Sand, mud, off-camber turns, steep descents and barriers requiring riders to dismount and carry their bikes. It’s a blast. If you have a little time between January 8-12, 2014, head on over. It’s a party with a race in the middle. By the way, all of these ‘Cross images are mine. Copyright Walt Hester Photography. More to show off than anything else.
That’s all I have for this week. I hope to be more with it and get back on this next week. Mean while . . . Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
So, we’ve had some water issues in my lovely home town. The water removed bridges and dams. That’s an issue. But signs of recovery and hope are appearing.
I ran into a guy who works for Ride the Rockies. First, great guy. Works hard and loves what he does. He mentioned how challenging route-finding was so far, with the wiping-out of so many canyons and bridges. They had a southerly route this last year. It will be interesting to see what they have to do this year. I didn’t think of it until today, four days lair, but touring effected communities would be a much-needed shot in the arm. If you live in one of these Colorado Front Range or Foothills communities, shoot them and e-mail with the suggestion. Evergreen, Nederland, Ward, Jamestown, Estes Park, Boulder, Longmont and possibly most of all, Lyons, could use some love.
Colorado’s Cyclist-in-Chief visited town today. Governor John Hickenlooper was touring these communities offering hope and help. He missed the new ride out east, Pedal the Plains, in September due to a surgery. He was still hobbling around on really cool crutches, as much as crutches can be cool. My town gave hime a t-shirt created to raise money for flood relief. When I get him alone for a moment, I told him of Slipstream’s (parent company for the Garmin-Sharp pro race team) Castelli jersey. The clothing sponsor for the Garmin squad has created a Colorado Drop jersey featuring the blue argil and a rain drop with the Colorado “C” in it. Money raised will go to local flood recovery efforts. Way to step up! I will be ordering mine on Friday. Check it out – http://store.castelli-us.com/product/drop-for-colorado-jersey/?added-to-cart=329
There are many organizations jumping in to help, and it’s a nice thing to see. The big main highways from Estes Park down to the Front Range should have the simplest of dirt roads by December. Hopefully, those guys will have something ridable by June. From what I’ve seen, these guys are working much harder than their pay grade would indicate. Between the Nat’l Guard and the Army Corpse of Engineers, we have plenty of workers. (Warning – Political statement coming) I hope the powers that be can pull their collective heads out so these guys can get paid for helping us out.
So, I’ve had a change in my real job, so I will be switching my schedule. I will be writing on Wednesdays for a while. That opens up a lot of fun for me. Nobody else home on Wednesdays. I can take long rides guilt-free! That’s yet another chance to get cool stuff and review it. Hurray for me!
Until then . . .
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!
The jersey. Pretty cool!
Just missed it
So, I have now missed two entire TV series with significant cultural impact. I never saw a single “Sopranos” episode and now I missed every last episode of “Breaking Bad.” I’m not bragging,nor am I ashamed. I just never found the need to track them down. I realize I won’t be able to make references or inside jokes, but I can’t say that it has negatively effected my life. These are the choices we, as cyclists, make.
There are things I won’t miss. I have seen all of my daughter’s singing and swimming performances. I actually photographed my wife’s graduation from nursing school. I have had the privilege of walking my little girl to the bus nearly every day. I have priorities.
I grew up in Nebraska. Even in my formative years, I missed Husker games. I played rugby. I played soccer. I played sandlot football. I prefer doing rather than watching. This is how we are as cyclists. Days that would be considered perfect for football are better for riding. I know I’m not alone.
Again, I don’t hate those other things. I try not to be “judgie” about those who are really into TV. It’s just not my thing. If you are a regular reader, you may feel the same. In my head, TV is what one watches when one can’t get out on the bike. Watching TV reminds me of bad weather and injury.
I don’t really know where I’m headed with this one. I suppose part of this is actually missing long rides dueto the large sections of riding roads washed away by the Colorado floods. I look forward to riding in Boulder, eventually. I look forward to next summer when it is possible that I will be able to ride to Loveland, back up through the Big Thompson Canyon and possibly up through Glen Haven. It’s going to be a long recovery, but it will come. I still hope to get some rides in through the fall foliage.
I hope you, who ever you are and where ever you are, can get out. I hope you can enjoy the crisp fall air and the smell of fallen leaves. Think of the riders who are faced with the long clean up we have ahead. Ride for us and enjoy.
Have fun, be safe. I’m cleaning up.
My favorite peak in my favorite foliage.
Lemme take a breath
I hope you are all still out there in the bloggospher. I missed you. I am one of the many poor, unfortunate souls who lives in the foothills northwest of Denver. It’ been a mess. A lot of my favorite rides have been cut off by roads that have washed away, as well as homes and businesses of friends. I have gotten some exercise wading through the toxic soup of flood waters to document this flood and moving heavy furniture and cutting out wet carpet. A few things have occurred to me.
I miss commuting by bike. When I was in school and when I worked down at the Denver Post, I commuted on my Kona Jake the Snake ‘cross bike as often as I could. I still have that bike and still use it from time to time. This disaster makes me want to do more of my moving around in town by bike, again.
When my wife and I first moved in together, we bought a Burley trailer. We used it for grocery shopping before our daughter came along. It was pretty great. Zoe is now 12 and we have long since sold the Burley. Now I’m look for something else to fit that niche.
I have two bikes in mind at this point. The mechanic at my local Estes Park Mountain Shop rides a Surly Big Dummy. It is an elongated mountain bike made for hauling. It is designed to carry as much as 200 lbs of groceries, children, camera gear, whatever you got. It comes with a deck that looks an awful lot like a skateboard deck on top of rear panniers. The panniers are long and come with bags.
The parts package seems pretty straightforward, and pragmatic, as well. It has a 3×9 Shimano Deore drive train and hubs, Avid mechanical disc brakes and Continental Town and Country tires. All of this hung on a reliable and forgiving steel frame. Sounds great for what I need.
Of course there is the fun, extreme point of view, as well. I follow the All Seasons Cyclist blog (allseasonscyclist.com). This guy is big into riding no matter what. I respect that. One of his steeds is the Surly Pugsley. Again, a steel frame, but this bad boy comes with 3.8″ wide tires. I can certainly see the value in this as we occasionally get big (2-4 feet) wet snows in the fall and spring. It might be a bit much for everyday commuting, but would be a really good time.
I will try to stay consistent and write on Sunday nights for a while. I hope to not have any more disasters to photograph in the near future. This was enough for a while. Trust me, it helps to spend some time writing about riding, to get my mind off of the long recovery this little mountain town faces. Wish us luck.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
The Devils Gulch climb was featured in Stage 6 of this year’s USA Pro Challenge. It could be a while before the road is ridable again.
For more images from the Colorado floods in Estes Park, go to http://www.walthester.com/Journalism/Estes-Park-Flood-2013/31890818_hbXbTf#!i=2781478890&k=FC4zRLc
And come on back to Estes Park. We need your support!
Seven days of World Class fun
This weekend’s broadcast of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge beamed images of some of the world’s best cyclists all over the world, and with it, the vistas of Estes Park.
“America’s Race” started in Aspen on Monday, August 19, and wound its way through the Rocky Mountains, including through Northern Colorado and Estes Park, on its way to the finale in Denver. Race organizers boasted 200 nations and territories saw the race in its 600-plus mile journey through the state.
By the time the race reached Estes Park on Saturday, August 24, 114 out of the original 128 riders remained. Altitude seemed to be the biggest challenge to riders used to high points of 7,000 feet. Joe Dombrowski was looking forward to competing in the US with the support of Tour de France winner Chris Froome. Froome only arrived three days ahead of the start and suffered throughout the week of racing. Dombrowski developed a nose bleed, a condition he had suffered as a child. The bleed hadn’t stopped after two stages, forcing the young American to drop out.
Slovak sprinter and Tour de France Points champion Peter Sagan arrived two weeks ahead of the race in an attempt to acclimates. It seemed to pay off. Sagan nabbed the first stage win after a three circuit ride of almost 64 miles from Aspen to Snowmass and back.
The second stage began in aspen and quickly took the riders to dizzying heights, climbing first over Independence Pass, the Hoosier Pass and finally the short but steep Boreas Pass before plunging into Breckenridge. The 126.1-mile stage was battled out between BMC’s Mathias Frank, Garmin-Sharp’s young Australian Lachlan Morton and, surprisingly, big Peter Sagan.
Frank and Morton sparred for most of the day in the front breakaway before Frank was able to attack and make a gap on the last few yards of the Boreas Pass climb. Morton stayed close behind but could not catch the Swiss climber. Morton was able to hold of Sagan who showed impressive strength in ascending the last climb in enough time to nearly catch Morton on the run into Breckenridge.
“The altitude is the biggest difference,” said the stage winner, Frank. “In the Alps you finish at the altitude we’re already at (to start) here.”
Sagan would lose the Smashburger leaders’ jersey by 11 seconds, but it was Morton, not the stage winner Frank, who would wear the golden fleece to Steamboat Springs on Stage 3.
The third stage headed north out of Breckenridge on a 106-mile route that saw the race’s elder statesman, German RadioShack rider and fan favorite Jens Voigt, spend most of the day driving the break. Voigt and four other rider, none of whom threatened the overall standings, raced away from the pack over the day’s first climb, Swan Mountain, and stayed away, working together nearly to the foot of the day’s big climb.
Just shy of the Rabbit Ears Pass climb, the 41-year-old Voigt pulled away from the rest of the breakaway, much like he had done to take a stage win in last years Pro Challenge. Voigt lead the race over the KOM point on the pass and down the west side. Team Cannondale was not going to make it easy, however.
Peter Sagan’s squad, with help from Argos-Shimano and Optum-Kelley Benefits, swallowed up the flagging breakaway, leaving the veteran, Voigt, alone in the lead. With a long, flat final six miles, the peloton reached speeds of 40 mph, catching the German nearly within sight of the finish.
“I was disappointed,” said Voigt. “But I’d rather get caught then get in a crash.”
Shortly after the catch, with about two miles to go, wheels touched and several riders went down. Some went to the hospital, the most rolled across the line. Those who were caught behind the crash were awarded the same time as the winner, as the crash occurred so close to the finish.
At the finish, it was again the Terminator, Peter Sagan, who collected the win, beating Luka Mezgec of Argos-Shimano.
Stage four was marked by the organization as the Queen Stage. The route took riders 103 miles, but included the long steep climb of Bachelor Gulch.
“That thing (Bachelor Gulch) is incredible,” exclaimed King of the Mountains contender Matt Cooke of the Jamis-Sutter Homes team. “I’m just impressed that anyone can ride up that pretty fast. It was steep and one heck of a course.”
The climb blew the peloton apart. Groups of two and three remained after Colombian rider Janier Acevedo of Jamis followed Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson, Tejay van Garderen and Matias Frank of BMC as they chased down a solo break by Mick Rodgers of Saxo-Tinkoff. Rogers had been the lone survivor of the early break, but was caught and dropped by the elite riders.
In the end, Acevedo and Colorado native van Garteren worked together to drop Danielson and cross the line in Beaver Creek. Acevedo got the stage, but van Garteren got the yellow jersey.
Van Garteren tightened his grip on the leaders’ jersey in the next day’s individual time trial on Vail Pass. The ten-mile route saw van Garteren take out the win in yellow, just four seconds ahead of Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky.
The sixth stage from Loveland to Fort Collins would be the only real chance for anyone to catch the young Fort Collins native, van Garteren. While a large, 15-man break got away early and carried a 2-minute lead over the climb of Devils Gulch and into Estes Park, Sagan’s Cannondale squad came to the fore and crushed all hope of a breakaway win. After a few scares on the climbs around Horsetooth Reservoir, Sagan roared across the finish line on Mountain Avenue in Old Town, his third sprint victory and the last he needed to secure the Points Category win.
In Denver, riders got a break from climbing, ascending and descending only 30 feet for each of the eight circuits from the Capitol Building on Broadway and Colfax, east to City Park, back to Speer Blvd, then back to the Civic Center Park.
A breakaway formed early and was again chased down by Team Cannondale, giving Sagan his fourth win in seven stages. Van Garteren finished safely in the pack to claim the overall victory. The win was van Garteren’s second major stage race GC victory this season, after May’s Tour of California.
Sagan easily took home the green Clif Bar Points jersey. Matt Cooke won the Nissan King of the Mountains competition. Early race leader Morton won the Colorado State University Best Young Rider competition and Ben King of RadioShack-Leopard Trek won the FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider jersey for his efforts throughout the race.
At the end of the podium presentations, Christian Vande Velde was given special recognition as the USAPCC was his final pro American race. Vande Velde will retire at the end of the season after a carreer stretching back to 2008.
All images copyright Walt Hester Photography. Visit WaltHester.com to see all images from stages 6 & 7 of the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
For more on the race, go to usaprocyclingchallenge.com
After lurking quietly, a few seconds behind the leaders, Tejay van Garderen took huge time and a big step toward taking two big US races in one season. The Colorado native rode today’s Vail Pass time trial like the mature pro he is growing to be. After red-lining and blowing up two years ago, van Garderen rode the TT in a manner that was both calculated and crushing.
Van Garderen took control of the Smashburger leaders’ jersey on Thursday’s stage in which he attacked with Colombian climber Janier Acevedo of Jamis-Hagens Berman up Bechalor Gulch. Today, on the climb up Vail Pass, van Garteren hung 1:02 on rival and fellow Coloradan Tom Danielson and 1:17 on Lachlan Morton, tightening his grip on the yellow jersey.
The famous 10-mile route starts in Vail and averages about two percent until riders get out of town, then tilts up to five percent and stays there for most of the climb. Levi Leipheimer set a course record when they road here in 2011, paving the way to his Pro Challenge overall victory. Van Garderen may repeat the feat.
Van Garteren smashed the course record, crossing the line in 25:01.94. Garmin Sharp rider Andrew Talansky had held the lead and the record for a while until van Garderen, the last to leave the start house, finished his ride.
“It was certainly a tough effort,” explained van Garderen in the post-race press conference. “I don’t even know how to describe it. Up there, your lungs are searing in the thin air. You have to remind yourself that it’s okay. I was surprised that I got the stage win because I felt pretty bad coming in there at the end. Hopefully we can hold this jersey through Denver.”
Van Garteren holds the leaders’ jersey. BMC teammate Lawrence Warbasse took over the Best Young Rider on the Vail Pass, by four seconds over Swede Tobias Ludvigsson of Argos Shimano, and five seconds over former BYR Lachlan Morton. Matt Cook officially won the Nissan King of the Mountains jersey yesterday. He will be the KOM winner all the way to Denver on Sunday. Cannondale’s Peter Sagan hangs on to the Clif Bar Points jersey. That jersey may be decided on Saturday, but would take a major implosion or crash for Sagan to lose the green jersey.
Saturday’s sixth stage starts on the east side of Loveland, rides north on the east side of I-25 to Windsor for the first sprint of the day, before heading back south, then west for the second Clif Bar sprint in downtown Loveland. Soon after, the riders begin the long climb through the Big Thompson Canyon. About nine miles up the canyon, riders turn off of US 34 to follow the North Fork of the Big Thompson River to the feed zone in Glen Haven. For most of this time, riders are climbing grades between 4-6 percent. About a mile west of Glen Haven, the road take a sharp, rude pitch upward.
The Glen Haven Switchbacks a popular test for riders in the Northern Front Range. On Saturday, the 10 percent, 1.3-mile climb will be the final King of the Mountains points of the Pro Challenge.
The riders then spill into Estes Park for a loop around town, including the last Clif Bar Sprint Point right on Elkhorn Avenue in front of the town hall and Bond Park. The race heads toward Rocky Mountain National Park’s Headquarters, but turns short of the gate, heading south up the 7 percent grade of Mary’s Lake Road. The route traces the edge of the small lake before turning north on South Saint Vrain Avenue back toward downtown Eses Park. The riders turn right on Big Thompson Avenue to head east out of town and back down the Big Thompson Canyon. The run into Fort Collins will not be a freewheeling descent, however.
The race takes a familiar and popular route north from US 34 through Masonville to the climbs of Horsetooth Reservoir. The short, punchy, steep climbs may temporarily break up the peloton, but the hard men will have some time to regroup before the race blasts into Old Town.
The race comes into Old Town Fort Collins along Armstrong, before briefly turning north on Peterson, then sprinting for the finish on Mountain Avenue, just on the east side of College Avenue.
Peter Sagan will, again, be the man to beat on Saturday, though Danielson’s Garmin Sharp may try to reverse their current 1:42 deficit. It would take a monumental effort, however, especially with so much rolling and flat terrain toward the end of the stage.
Get over it!
I’m suffering a bit. I had the delightful chance to ride like a pro. The Larimer County Pro Challenge Experience allowed mere mortals to ride with Mavic neutral support (the folks with the bright yellow cars and motorcycles) over a route and distance akin to what the pros ride. It also included Saxo-Tinkoff riders Tim Duggin and Rory Southerland.
It started out well. I hung with Tim, the 2012 US National Road Champion, and the front pack of riders . . . for about 15 miles. After that it was a long, lonely slog. I was punished for my mass. Southerland is my height, at 6’1″, but weighs a scant 165 pounds. Oh, and he rides for a living.
So now it has been several days, and I have a hard time sitting still. I like to lift, I love riding, and I’ve promised my daughter that we would participate in a mud run this fall, so I need to get out and run. This week I’m trying to slack off a bit, but I also love to eat. It’s tough, but there are things an athlete of any age can and should do.
More and more studies are pointing to the dangers of even low dosages of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Heat tends to exaserbate inflamation and even ice has been called into question as of late. Compresstion is still an effective way to treat inflammation, post workout. I own a pair of compression tights for that reason. There are many brands of such garments, but cheaper is not better. Bite the bullet and drop $100 on these tights to get your legs back a bit sooner. Riders at Boulder’s Colorado Multi Sport sware by them.
Estes Park, being a vacation destination, has plenty of massage theropists. Find one you like and utilize this resource. If you don’t have the money, or like a dear friend of mine, just can’t stand the thought of a stranger rubbing you, get a hold of a foam roller. There are several varieties of these. Some are solid foam, some are like a tube. Some have smooth surfaces and some have textures meant to pin-point pressure to work out the kinks.
If you can stand it, there are also massage sticks. Just like it sounds, these are plastic sticks with hollow plastic tubes around them and handles at either end. Roll the stick over the hurt spots to help stimulate healing.
Stretching is absolutely necessary to speed recovery and maintain flexibility. Eric Adams down at CrossFit Estes Park introduced me to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching. The whole goal of this style is increasing range of motion and speeding rehabilitation. It would take another whole column to explain, so I recommend going to a trusted physical therapist, or head over to CrossFit Estes Park to have it demonstrated before you try it on your own.
Again, I am not a doctor, a physical therapist or any sort of licensed health care professional. Consult one if you have serious injuries or questions.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going to recover.
More Fun, Please
The USA Pro Challenge is bearing down on us like a bunch sprint. But why should they have all the two-wheeled fun? There are plenty of events going on around the event before the pro men come storming through.
This Sunday, August 4, the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bicycle Tour climbs up a portion of the Pro Challenge route and spends the night in Estes Park. The week-long ride is like Ride the Rockies, only smaller and tougher.
Tour director Peter Duffy made a conscious effort to keep the ride to a more manageable 500 riders, as opposed to RTR’s 2,000-plus. The ride is also 469 miles in just six days of riding. There are several challenging climbs along the way, including a triple day that takes riders from Golden to Fraser over Lookout Mountain, Juniper pass and Berthoud Pass. Riders have an option to through in Mount Evans to make the day a century if they really want.
The ride begins and ends in the Loveland-Fort Collins area and stops in Estes Park, Golden, Fraser, Steamboat Springs, Walden and back to Fort Collins. While it’s too late to sign up for it this year, keep it in mind for next summer. Go to crmbt.com to learn more.
Next Sunday, August 11, the Larimer County organizers behind our leg of the Pro Challenge are staging a ride out of Fort Collins called the Larimer County Pro Challenge Experience. The event features three rides all starting at the New Belgium Brewery; 32, 50 and 108 miles. The 108-mile ride features a timed ascent to Red Feather Lakes. First over the top, the King and Queen of the Mountains receive an entry in the amateur time trial up Vail Pass before the Pro Challenge stage 5 on Friday, August 23.
Both rides are fully supported with SAG wagons and aid stations. Ride gear is also available for both, if you really want to look like you belong there. The Pro Challenge Experience has a rider expo at the start/finish line.
On the day of the Loveland to Fort Collins stage, the Fort Follies women’s cycling team will host the Women’s Grand Prix race for Pro/Cat. 1-2 women on the finishing circuit of the stage. The day begins with a Ride with a Pro event, encouraging women of all ages and abilities to take a ride with the pro women. That starts at 8 a.m. in Old Town Fort Collins, anding at a supporting coffee shop. Beginning at noon, the women throw down, racing the finishing circuit in a criterium until 12:50. See how hard and fast the women race as they compete for sprints, the best young rider competition, as well as the final race win. Having seen a women’s crit before, I can say you might be surprised how fast these ladies go.
No matter what your fancy, the weeks leading up to the USA Pro Challenge will offer plenty for the amateur rider to enjoy. Don’t just sit on the couch waiting for the pros, get out and participate.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
I would like to quickly acknowledge everyone who has helped me and Team Estes for the Courage Classic. The Family Medical Clinic at the Estes Park Medical Center and their generosity took a lot of pressure off of us by covering the cost of team kits. As you can tell from the photo below, they were pretty snazzy this year. The more stuff like this that gets covered, the more we get to put strait into Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation.
Thanks to Rob and Julie at Mama Rose’s and Poppy’s Pizza, the Estes Valley Farmers’ Market and the Rocky Mountain Health Club who all helped us get to and through the Courage Classic.
Thanks to Steve at Buckwheat’s Organic Grocer and Alex of Weezer’s Nut Butters for their gastronomic assistance. All the goodies were a hit.
Thanks to Specialized Bicycles and their demo bike program which saved my weekend. Thanks to Pactimo for a great job on the jerseys.
And to the people who donated directly to the foundation through me, my wife’s uncle, David Winter, MetX of Estes Park, the Basch family and Scott Thompson.
Thanks to all of our families for letting us take three days away, and especially to my own wife, Kendra, who lets me go each year, even though the event always falls on the weekend of her birthday. I love you, my Honey.
If you haven’t donated, the Children’s Hospital Colorado is a leader in pediatric health and wellness in a state-of-the-art facility in Aurora, Colorado. They also lead in research in pediatric health sciences. Their foundation is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children and their families.
Please head over to couragetours.com/2013/walthester and make a donation to this fantastic hospital.
And thank you.
Eat food, yum!
For much of my life, I’ve had an odd relationship with food. Some of it has to do with a history of addiction, some with having been an athlete of some variety since I was about seven. I can plow through a dozen chocolate-chip cookies in the blink of an eye, but I still see how certain foods work better in my system and in my training, than others. So, it has been a long, difficult road to where I find food that I enjoy and that will help my riding.
My diet changes from summer to autumn, winter to spring. I will adjust the proportion of each macro-nutrient, fat, carbohydrates and protein, as well as the sources of these. Right now, the height of summer, I eat 40-50 percent carbs, depending on if I am training or actually out competing or on a long tour. Fat tends to stay near 30 percent, sometimes a little lower when I’m out. Protein I like to keep pretty close to 30 percent, though it will dip a bit out riding. If you are familiar with recent trends, you may recognize the proportions of the “Zone Diet”. Yeah, I tend to do that.
I also lean more and more toward natural foods, or even the Paleo diet. The shorter the ingredients list, the better. The more processed a product, the more calories tend to be jammed into it. As much as I like them, chili and lime Doritos are just about as processed and unnatural as a food-like product can be. A handful of almonds and raisins are at the other end of the spectrum. This is the end I try to stay close to.
Now the whole rise of processed and pre-packaged foods is based on convenience. It’s easy to pick up a Twinkie at the gas station, though it is difficult to tell, even while eating it, how long that little yellow cream-tube has been around. Real food goes bad, eventually. It can be timer-consuming to pack a steak in a bike jersey, however.
So I have tried to find options. They have shifted and changed over the years. I have eaten my share of PowerBars and Fig Newtons. I have tried more “natural” options, like the Honey Stinger offerings. Now I have come across two or three options that I have not had until recently.
Allen Lim is a Boulder-based sports physiologist. He has worked for Team RadioShack and Garmin. He invented a hydration drink with less sugar that prompted other riders to dump their sponsor’s drinks and secretly fill their bottles with Lim’s “Secret Hydration Mix”, now just called Skratch Labs mix. No artificial colors, no artificial flavors. This approach I the basis for Lim’s new book, “Feed Zone Portables”.
I’ve written about this book before. Now that I’ve tried out the recipes, I’m convinced it’s the best riding food I’ve ever had, and it’s cheaper in the long run because it’s made at home. Little muffin-tin omelets, two-bite pies, pocket-sized sandwiches, all with whole, natural-food ingredients. My body handles the food better and I can perform better. The first fourth of the book explains from a physiological point of view why this works. It’s fantastic.
Now I am in no way perfect in my diet. It’s not all food that I can chase down or pick myself. When I’m out on a ride, I like a good treat. I still prefer when that treat has few artificial ingredients and a short list. With that in mind, let me tell you about the return of the Estes Park Pie Company.
Val and Patrick Thompson opened their little shop on Elkhorn Avenue a few years back and were surprised by the positive reaction. Their pies, muffins and cookies were, in my opinion, heavenly. After problems finding an industrial kitchen, questionable dealings with other retailers, a move to Longmont and Illinois, the couple are back and their shop has reopened, this time in Lower Stanley Village. They have added to their menu, now offering meals, as well as desserts. I look forward to beginning, as well as ending, a few rides at the Estes Park Pie Company.
This weekend marks the start of the 100th Tour de France. Due two a few wars, while the race began in 1903, this year is the 100th edition of Le Grande Boucle. American Tejay Van Garderen of Team BMC has the best shot of bring the yellow jersey back to the US, but he will have his hands full. While last year’s defending champ, Brad Wiggins, is not defending his championship do to injury, the only man who came close to him last season, teammate Chris Froome, will be leading Team Sky, widely regarded as the best team in the pro ranks this year. NBCSports and NBC will carry the US broadcast of the grandest of the grand tours beginning at 5:30 am on Saturday, and running through Sunday, July 21.
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.
Full Speed Ahead
It is clearly cycling season, even at altitude. At the middle of May, one grand tour is snaking across Italy, one smaller tour is heading up the state of California and we are four weeks from the start of Ride the Rockies. But wait . . . there’s more.
The town of Estes Park is gearing up for its moment in the international cycling spotlight. With riders like Cadel Evans from Australia, Peter Sagan from Slovakia, Andy Schleck from Luxembourg and the Garmin-Sharp team from just down the hill in Boulder, it is very much an international event. Fans and reporters from around the world will likely show up, as well. Estes Park, as a whole, needs to get involved to show the world that we are a place to visit.
Bo Winslow, the town’s Community Services Director, has put out a call for volunteers. The town needs course marshals, idea people to help with related events in town the day of the race, as well as vendors to keep the visitors in Estes with food, gifts and the like. If you think you want to help, contact Bo at 586-6104 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have heard there are detractors who point to flopping rock shows as a reason that we should not care. To that I say, the bands who have come for those shows have not been top acts since I was in elementary school in the ’70s. The guys who will be blowing through town on August 24 will be the very best riders on earth right now. These are the best of the best. These guys are faster and fitter than anyone you personally know. These guys competed for medals in the Olympics and will be here preparing for the World Road and Time Trial Championships. In cycling, if you’re not in France in July, it really does not get any better than this.
To get an idea of what we are in for, tune in to the Amgen Tour of California, going on this week. Folks are lining the race route, especially on the climbs and in towns, two things we have going for us. We will see the end of a race within the race as the last King of the Mountains points will be collected at the top of the Glen Haven switchbacks.
The one thing we will have that the California race doesn’t is that many people will still be on summer vacation when the Pro Cycling Challenge comes through. And, because it will be a Saturday, and with our proximity to our major population centers, we could see a crowd matched only by the Scot Fest, except they will all funnel into downtown. This is a chance to show a global audience all of what Estes Park has to offer.
There will be another, slower but no less enthusiastic group pedaling through Estes Park 19 days ahead of the pros. I will be riding the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour through here on August 4-5. It is the opening day of the ride that loops beginning in Fort Collins and visits EP, Golden, Fraser, Steamboat Springs, Walden and back to Fort Collins. This makes a whole summer of fun for me.
The CRMBT is like Ride the Rockies, only smaller and tougher. While RTR allows 2,000, or so, riders, CRMBT allows only 500. The rout tends to be more challenging, as well. While the toughest day in the saddle for RTR will be Day 4, when we ride over 10,850 foot Wolf Creek Pass, the third day of the CRMBT starts in Golden, climbs Lookout Mountain, ride to Evergreen to climb Juniper Pass, plunges into Idaho Springs, slogs to the base , then climbs Berthoud Pass before finishing in Fraser. Three big climbs over 85 miles. Riders are even invited to ride the Mount Evans Road, if they feel so motivated.
Tour director Peter Duffy explains that it is a tour for a more dedicated crowd.
“I don’t want to bad mouth the Ride The Rockies,” he hastens to say. “I’ve ridden it, it’s fun. The CRMBT is smaller and tougher. We want to appeal to a more dedicated cyclist. The people who ride CRMBT will be a little fitter and a little more enthusiastic.”
I start my organized riding season this Saturday with the First Ascent Ride, a fund raiser for Livestrong. It is a metric century, starting and ending in Golden, starting with a climb of the Golden Gate Canyon, a road that pitched up to 14 percent in sections, then follows the Peak to Peak highway before descending Coal Creek Canyon and returning to Golden.
The ride features several members of the 7-Eleven cycling team, as well. It should be a great morning of riding. If you find your Saturday morning open, check the First Ascent Ride website and head down to Golden early. The ride begins at 7:30.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
This image is from the USAPCC web site.
I was sitting around the office, daydreaming about our upcoming
spring break trip, reading e-mails for upcoming rides, reading about
the Cannibal showing signs of his age, he’s had a pacemaker put in,
when a friend posted a video on Facebook that changed my day. The
video was entitled “The best coin ever spent” and start in Spain with
a little girl putting a coin into the hat of what seems to be an
extremely talented and well dressed classical base player. As the
video goes on, musicians stream out of a door in what I assume is the
bank sponsoring the video, along with some well-placed and
inconspicuous choral vocalists in the crowd. The all come together to
perform Beethoven’s final movement of the 9th Symphony, or “Ode to
The tone of the music and voices brings an exuberant
smile to faces in the video and to mine. I love this piece. I
regularly soften the suffering in my indoor training class with it. I
hum it to myself while climbing. It is the musical incarnation of my
Climbing is challenging. That’s just the nature of
it. If it were easy, everyone would do it. We’d have bike lanes on
Trail Ridge Road. Climbing shows us what we can be, what we are
capable of, how hard we can push ourselves. It is a psychological
exercise as much as physical. Sometimes I have to play games in my
head to get through.
I think I’m just used to TRR by now. The
climb from either side does not seem as difficult to me as
Independence Pass. I was certainly humming for that climb. I also pick
out land marks. This is an old trick. When really tired, or really
challenged by the terrain, pick out a landmark. In your head, imagine
throwing a rope around it like a pulley, and drag yourself to it. When
you reach it, pick out another and keep going.
Once on the Elephant Rock metric century, I had to help a buddy by telling him, “Okay, just ride to that tree. Okay, now ride to that big rock. Okay now just get over the top.” Painful and obvious, but effective.
Between the humming and the mind games, I can’t help
but smile. This is good. Smiling has a measurable positive effect on
performance. Smiling, whether you mean it or not, sets up a positive
cycle in the endocrine system. The positive feeling associated with
smile sends even more endorphins into the blood stream, taking a bit
more of the edge off of the pain. Even telling yourself that you enjoy
climbing, just another mind game, will start this virtuous cycle into
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
This weekend marks the start of the Spring Classics season. The Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders, is Sunday and should be a showdown between Swiss superman Fabian Cancellara, Belgium’s favorite son, Tom Boonen, and Slovak up-start Peter Sagan. Boonen has had a rough go so far this season. He fell behind on training after narrowly catching an infection in his elbow before it got to the bone. This could have cost him the arm. Boonen bonked horribly while trying to chase down Cancellara in last week’s E3 Harelbeke semi-classic. Spartacus attacked exactly where everyone knew he would, but no one could do anything about it.
Relative youngster Sagan won last weekend’s
Ghent-Wevelgem with such a lead that he had time to pop a wheelie
while crossing the finish line. This sets up what could be the best
race that won’t be televised in the US this year.
NBC has shown no hint that they will broadcast this Monument, forcing guys like me to find a feed online. My suggestion is a web site called steephill.tv. They will find a feed, though it may require the scaling of a paywall. I think this year, it will be worth it. At this point, we will be adding another ten miles to the weekly total heading
toward Ride the Rockies. This is added to the weekend ride, which is
beginning to resemble a real spring ride. This week, as of Saturday,
we should ride 30 miles, then distribute another 50 miles over three
days. Nine weeks left, I’m getting excited.Again, if you feel the need
to ride, say Sunday, shoot me an e-mail.
Have fun, be safe. I’m
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you know or how hard you train. Mistakes happen. Mistakes happen with the experts, the people at the very spearhead of their professions. It takes just a split second or one bad decision or just dumb luck. We are lucky if we get to learn from this.
In 1967, on stage 13 of the Tour de France, the rider who was then the very best ever to come out of Great Britain, Tom Simpson, collapsed and died during an ascent of Mont Ventoux. He was 29. He had made the decision to take an amphetamine and alcohol, with or without the knowledge of the combinations diuretic effect. In the heat of the climb, Simpson began cramping, but by the time he stopped, it was too late.
Fabio Casartelli was an Italian cyclist riding for Motorola in 1995. He was the defending Olympic road race champion. He had won stages in several major and minor stage races. On July 18, stage 15 of the Tour, Casartelli and several other riders crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d’Aspet in the Pyrenees. Casartelli’s head hit a rock on the side of the road the serves as a guard rail and died. He was just shy of 25. The next day, the entire peloton road behind Motorola, as they led the stage start to finish. Lance Armstrong won the following stage in a long breakaway, dedicating the win to his fallen friend. Every time the Tour passed the memorial for the rest of the Texan’s career, he payed homage.
Wouter Weylandt was young and improving. The Belgian was riding for the premier team from his country, Quick Step, with several stage wins and some impressive placings within the stage races. In 2011, Weylandt was riding for Trek/Leopard on the descent of the Passo Bocco during stage 3 of that year’s Giro d’Italia. He was near the end of the stage, but trailing off the back of the main peloton, as sprinters often do on climbing stages. He was trying to bridge up while on a switchback section. While checking behind him, over his right shoulder, to see who might join him, he clipped the guard rail on his left. He was thrown over and landed on the road below. Weylandt was 26 when he died. His girlfriend, An-Sophie, was pregnant with the couple’s daughter, born September 1, named Alizee.
Why am I going on about this? It’s more than the recent climbing tragedy in the national park. Things happen. We enjoy a different sort of inherently dangerous sport. Things can go horribly wrong in a fraction of a second. That is the nature of cycling. The best way we can ensure maximum survivability is to wear a helmet.
Pay attention. Don’t take silly risks. Most of us do not get payed for our cycling results. We have families who want to see us come home. Know the traffic. Assume that the driver either doesn’t see you or doesn’t care. And again, wear a helmet.
Carry some kind of ID. I carry my drivers license, my insurance card and my Road ID. If you crash and can’t communicate, you want whoever finds you to be able to tell your loved-ones whats going on.
Don’t let love of the sport interfere with family. No one ever gets to the end of this life and says, “I wish I’d spent less time with my family.”
Next time you head out, be sure to kiss your spouse. Hug your kids. Make sure everyone you care for knows how you feel. Things happen and you don’t want to leave something like that hanging.
For training, we are now 11 weeks away from the Ride the Rockies. Our total miles should be up to 70 with three rides equalling 50 miles during the week and one more of 20 mile on the weekend. Keep it up. As we are expecting snow and cold all the way through the weekend, the typical spring pattern, I’ll be inside again. It may also be an opportunity to do some maintenance on the bike, or maybe just stay home and watch movies with my wife and daughter.
I’m not just saying this. I mean it. Have fun, be safe. I’m going to hang out with my family.
Years ago, a friend of mine laid some wisdom on me that I hold dear
to this day; little ring until spring. No matter how enthusiastic we
are, no matter what early events we have, we need to give our
connective tissue some time to adjust from indoor rides to longer,
harder outdoor training. Diving head-long into the big gears can lead
to the dreaded “Spring Knee,” which forces one back to little
Spring Knee is the name given to a specific tendinitis
that strikes the tendons across the front of the knee. It’s usually a
result of overusage and too much strain on the tissue that might be
relatively weak after the winter hibernation. As the name implies, it
tends to occur in the early part of the riding season. While it is an
indictor that the tissue could use some TLC, it’s also typical of
those of us who can’t wait to get out and hammer.
Before I go on
much more, let me suggest the book Andy Pruitt’s Complete Medical
Guide for Cyclists. Pruitt holds a doctorate in education and is the
Director of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. This is the first
resource I consult when I have some new, weird pain after riding. It
is full of descriptions and, more importantly, treatments for ailments
typical of cyclists.
So Spring Knee is marked by a sharp pain
along the top of the kneecap. It’s usually on one of the top corners
of the kneecap. Occasionally, the pain shows up where the tendon and
muscles come together, about two or three inches above the
Treatment of this looks a lot like prevention. Go easy on
gearing. Spin light gears for a few weeks. If the pain persists after
a week, consider taking some time off. I know this is difficult just
as the thermometer begins its upward journey, but it is better to take
care of it now them have to see a doctor in June.
I’m not an
advocate of either ice or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for
reasons I will explain, but I have no medical background beyond my own
collection of injuries. Ice and ibuprofen are exactly what Pruitt
Again, I am not a doctor and if you have knee pain
that persists, talk to a real doctor. That said, recent studies have
shown that even moderate use of NSAID can cause liver damage. They are
real drugs and should be respected as such. Again, talk to a real
doctor, which I am not.
Second, inflammation is part of your
body’s healing process. When we apply ice, we interrupt our ownhealing. Two recent articles in medical journals address this. Go find “The Use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injury” found in Sports Medicine Vol.3, pages 398-414. Another place to look is the Journal of EmergencyMedicine, Feb. 25, 2008. “Is Ice Right? Does Cryotherapy Improve
Outcome for Acute Soft Tissue Injury?”
The first article states
that ice can actually cause our lymphatic system to work in the wrong
direction, adding to swelling. The second article states that they
found no evidence that ice helps in recovery. This flies in the face
of everything we have been told for years, but it is something worth
The alternative to these is compression. Some sort of
compression sleeve over the injured area can help control swelling
and, hopefully, speed recovery.
Spring is also a time for new
equipment. A new bike is possibly as sure an indicator of spring, and
in my opinion, more beautiful than new blooms. The things to remember
are fit and form. Make sure your fit is spot-on. Again, let me guide
you toward the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. They perform a
variety of professional bike fits that will assure that you are in the
best position to power that new steed.
Second comes form. No
matter how long you have ridden, you can always work on for. The most
common problem is in back position. We should have a pretty straight
and flat back when on the bike. The forward lean should come from the
hip joints, not the back. We should be supported by core muscles and
the forward lean should be supported by the muscles of the gluteuls.
We should feel tension on the high, outside muscles, like we would in
a deadlift. They are, after all, the same big muscles. The more you
are able to flatten your back and drive with the glutes, the more
efficient your efforts. You will be using not just the muscles across
the front of the leg, the quads, but the high hamstrings and glutes as
well. Spreding the same effort across three muscle groups, instead of
just one, results in more power for longer periods.
Keep it all
in mind next time you get out.
By the way, We are now 12 weeks out from Ride the Rockies. According to their own training chart, this coming week, which they start on Saturday, March 16, we should do 20 miles in a single ride this weekend, and another 40 miles split up over three rides over next week. As the above blog points out, we should still be spinning small gears. If you have even a hint of Spring Knee, wear knee warmers or embrocation (a warming oil or IcieHot sort of thing).
Oh, and this shot has nothing to do with the column, I just like it because Ivan was being shy the day I took this.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going