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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
So, I picked up a generic carbon frame, Step, at VeloSwap this year. I’m not sure what to expect, but I will tell you as soon as I can. I took it down to Boulder’s Sports Garage on Wednesday. The other thing I will get to comment on is the Pro Bike Fit. I have no doubt the resulting fit will be great. It will merely be a matter of how great. I will have a new Specialized saddle and a new handlebar, as well as position. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m looking at a bunch of fun stuff for winter training. While down in Boulder, I picked up the Pearl Izumi Elite AmFib tights for $170. It has a laminated finish across the front of the legs and on the butt to protect the rider against road spray. Just sitting around in them, yes, I’m just sitting around while writing this, they feel snug and warm. They also have a gaiter and cuff at the bottom. They have a strategically-placed flag over the top of the actual tights, where the suspenders begin. As I have not ridden in them, yet, I can’t comment on the chamois, other than identifying it as their Elite 3D. So far, so good. I will wear them in Estes Park’s infamous wind probably right after completing this entry.
I have a thing for high-end bike clothes, but my beautiful wife is in charge of the money. And for good reason. So, I pick and choose which high-end stuff I get. I have been riding in the cold with the Rapha deep winter cycling cap for the last year. It is great. The web site claims it is windproof and water resistant. I can agree, as I’ve ridden with it through the late fall, this year and the late winter, last year. The liner is Marino wool. When you sweat in it, take it off for a while, then put it back on, it can feel damp and cold. Once back on, it keeps your head good and warm. The brim is long enough to block sun and snow from the top of your glasses, but not so long as to block your view. The back and side fabric, described as the rearguard, is ribbed and comfy, not restricting head and neck movement. Black and understated, it will match anything. It’s a bit pricy at $80, but a quality piece of cycleware. I have washed it over and over in the last year and it has pilled, a bit, but has retained its shape. Don’t put it through the dryer, however. The insert in the bill will likely be ruined.
My town is slowly coming around. By Monday, November 4, US 36, linking Estes Park to Lyons, will reopen, about one month ahead of time. The Colorado and Utah National Guards have done great things in help us link more directly with the rest of the world.I plan to get out in the next few days, before the road opens, to ride the road at least half way down, to about Pinewood Springs. I’m hoping there is more of a shoulder to the road, as I’ve wanted to ride the 20-mile stretch for years. The lack of any real shoulder is a big deterrent for me, however. It will be very nice to only drive 45 minutes to Boulder next week, in stead of the 90 minutes it now takes.
We still have a month until the Big Thompson Canyon opens. We don’t know when Devils Gulch Road, the road through Glen Haven, will be open. We’ll hope for the best.
Come up and see Estes Park, by two wheels or four. It is still a beautiful little town and worth the drive. On Friday, November 29, Estes Park celebrates the Holiday season with our Catch the Glow Parade. Bundle up, as it’s after dark, but it is filled with lighted floats and a child-like innocence. Afterward, plenty of restaurants have reopened for the visitors and could really use the business. Come see us.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Mathias Frank of BMC Racing has not claimed a lot of wins in his pro career, just five since 2008, but on Tuesday’s Queen stage of the USA Pro Challenge the Swiss youngster attacked on the shortest climb. The tough climbing stage from Aspen to Breckenridge was won on the short, steep final climb of Boreas Pass.
“It was a really tough day, especially with the altitude,” said Frank. “The stage win was the most important thing for me.”
Frank bridged up to a small group of leader before the last climb, a 15 percent pitch, in which only Garmin-Sharp’s Lachlan Morton could follow. With so many riders on the same time, Frank needed five seconds over the rest of the field to take yellow, but only beat Morton by three seconds. Garmin-Sharp’s 21-year-old American donned the leaders jersey to start Wednesday’s stage.
The second stage of the Pro Challenge was a 126.1-mile climbers’ fest, ascending some 12,250 feet over three passes. The fun started almost right out of the gate, climbing the category one Independence Pass, 13.7 miles from Aspen to the 12,095-foot summit. BMC’s Michael Schar attacked on the climb and was eventually joined by KOM leader Matthew Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and Luis Lemus (Jelly Belly) before crossing the races highest point. The group built a lead of five minutes before streaking down the east side.
The high pass was the end for two riders, Peter Kennaugh of Team Sky and JJ Haedo of Jamis. Both riders stepped off their bikes before reaching the peak of the first pass.
The team of Points leader Peter Sagan lead the chase to bring back the three escapees as the pack approached the second category Hoosier Pass. By the time the peloton was halfway across South Park, they had nailed back three minutes, narrowing the gap to 2:25. RadioShack joined the chase and the peloton swept up the break away near Fairplay.
Once the second climb started, the counter attack began. Fiteen riders, including Frank, Morton, as well as RadioShack’s Andy Schleck. The group only mustered 1:40 at the start of the Hoosier Pass. Morton attacked on the slope, separating himself from the group. Schleck tried to bring him back, but failed. Over the top, Morton was alone and had two minutes over the chase group of Saxo-Tinkoff’s Michael Rogers, Frank and Livestrong rider Lawson Craddock.
Morton continued pushing on the descent, but was caught by Frank and Craddock. The trio worked together at that point to hold the chase at bay, 45 seconds ahead of the chase on the way to Moonstone Drive and the final climb of Boreas Pass.
Schleck and the rest of the chase was pulled back into the main peloton in the race’s first pass through Breckenridge, with about 34 miles to race. The leading trio, however, managed to build a lead of 1:15 just 1,200 yards shy of the Boreas Pass summit. Garmin-Sharp and the Colombia team took up the chase as they headed up the last leg-breaking ascent.
Frank bolted away from his compatriots inside of the last mile up Boreas Pass. The move doomed Craddock. Morton followed Frank, but also lost contact just short of the summit.
The race’s most consistant, and on this stage, most surprising rider, Cannondale’s Peter Sagan, launched out of the pack just 900 yards short of the summit of the last climb, dragging BMC’s Tejay van Garderen with him. Five more seconds behind, Garnmin’s Tom Danielson and Colombia’s Darwin Atapuma tried to bridge to the chase group.
“It was just a crazy race all around, hard to predict and hard to control,” van Garderen told VeloNews. “When Sagan went, I saw Danielson was struggling and I said ‘let’s do this’”
With just a mile left, Sagan and van Garderen caught Craddock. Ahead of them, however, Frank was drilling it to stay away and eventually claim the second stage. Frank coasted across, hitting a bodybuilder’s pose as he stopped the clock at 5:05:19.
Morton followed close behind to claim both the leaders yellow jersey and the Best Young Rider jersey. Sagan came across the finish line 14 seconds back, in third place, retaining his Points Leader green jersey. Sagan is third overall, only 11 second behind Morton in the GC.
Jamis-Hagen Berman’s Matt Cook hangs on to the King of the Mountains jersey, six points ahead of Garmin’s Morton. At just two stages in, BMC is the best team, 21 seconds ahead of Garmin-Sharp.
Of the big favorites, BMC’s van Garderen is in fourth at 11 seconds back. Garmin-Sharp’s Danielson is 29 back, in sixth. Saxo-Tinkoff’s Rory Sutherland is 41 seconds back in 13th. American Joe Dombroski, the de facto leader of Team Sky, is 1:04 back in 26th. The team’s Tour de France champion, Chris Froome, is suffering at altitude, some 16:08 back and about mid-pack at 76th place.
Wednesday take the riders out of Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs. The third stage is 106.6 miles with 5,865 feet of climbing, mostly on the climb up the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass. The pass is long, but not too steep. A break could get away on the roads leading to the climb, but with 20 more miles into Steamboat after the summit, it is unlikely a break will hold off Cannondale and their sprinter, Sagan.
Cannondale’s Peter Sagan through kisses at the Aspen crowd, then regaled them with a wheelie after winning the first stage of this year’s USA Pro Challenge. Sagan, replete in the new black Cannondale jersey, came around BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet with 100 meters to the line and easily put a bike length between himself and his Belgian rival.
“I think I did good work in two weeks in Aspen,” said the Slovak national champion.
Many of the riders came to Colorado early in an attempt to acclimate to the races high altitude. Most of the race will be spent at higher altitude than the highest climbs of this year’s Tour de France.
The day started with a three-man break. Matt Cook (Jamis-Hagen Berman), Craig Lewis (Champion Systems), and Ian Burnett (Jelly Belly) charged out to get some TV time for their sponsors at only six miles into the 64.8-mile circuit stage from Aspen to Snowmass and back. The pack did not show much interest in the break until the return to Aspen on the last lap. Sagan’s Cannondale team did the bulk of the work to real in the break, as no team wanted to help hand the charismatic sprinter his first win. As it turned, Cannondale and Sagan didn’t need anyone else.
One surprise came as the peloton began to wind up their chase. Tour de France champion Chris Froome was ejected out the back, along with several of his team mates. Froome only arrived on Wednesday from a series of exhibition races in Europe and was unprepared for the 6,000-plus feet of altitude on stage one.
At the end, Sagan crossed first, followed by Van Avermaet and American Kiel Rejmen of United Healthcare Systems. Of the General Classification contenders, Tejay Van Gardener of BMC placed fifth and Tom Danielson of Garmin-Sharp placed ninth, all on the same time of 2:26:00.
Sagan will begin Tuesday’s stage wearing the leader’s yellow jersey, but also leads in the Cliff Bar Points Classification (Green Jersey) and the Colorado State University Best Young Rider competition (Blue Jersey). Matt Cook (Jamis) took the King of the Mountains jersey (KOM) and break-away mate Craig Lewis was awarded the Most Aggressive Rider jersey (Orange Jersey).
Sagan will test his high-altitude fitness on Tuesday as the race hits the highest point of any pro race, the daunting Independence Pass. The race heads out of Aspen and immediately begins the race’s biggest climb, 15 miles, 4,000 vertical feet to the 12,096-foot summit. Then they bomb down to US Hwy 24 before looping around and past the highest range in Colorado, before heading over Hoosier Pass, 11,500 feet, and into Breckenridge. The course is 126 miles and could be won either by a break or by a climber. It is not likely that the big bodies, like Sagan, can hang on for this stage.
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.
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.
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.
I shared recently that I once bought a ‘cross bike specifically to commute from the Denver suburbs into downtown for school and work. I lived in Golden and commuted, making for a 30-mile round trip, then to Littleton for a 20-miler. I did it back in Omaha, as well, equally as long. But I didn’t think of it as the grind to work, It was my chance to get my head, my attitude, right before stepping into a cubical or classroom. It was my time to meditate.
I found that I was pretty crabby when dealing with traffic; my follow commuters running bumper-to-bumper on the gray pavement. Everyone uptight, everyone trying to get to where they needed sooner than everyone else. On my bike, commuting, I would arrive at work happy, relaxed and ready to work. Now, it’s a movement
Wednesday, June 26, is Bike to Work Day in Estes Park. The event runs from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and is sponsored by the Town of Estes Park, the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District, the Estes Park Medical Center and supported by local businesses and organizations, such as Kind Coffee.
If the endorphins flooding your bloodstream isn’t enough, how about coffee? The organizations will offer breakfast that morning at the Estes Park Visitor Center at 500 Big Thompson Avenue. Plumbers and contractors might have a difficult time pulling this off, but if you don’t have 100 pounds of gear and have a functioning bike, this would be worth the effort.
I had the chance to speak to several cycling visionaries and luminaries while out on Ride the Rockies. One of them was cycle coaching guru Chris Carmichael. The video is not yet up as I write, but should be by the time you read. Look for it either here or look for me on YouTube. Look up Where’s Walt.
At any rate, Carmichael has authored two books for those of us who have jobs and families and obligations. The Time-Crunched Cyclist and Time-Crunched Triathlete give suggestions to make a training schedule out of the time you have and make the workouts count. Carmichael told me that athletes can and do train adequately with only 6-10 hours a week. He also pointed pout that nearly as important as quality workouts as quality recovery. I know as well as anyone that sleep is sometimes not a priority. This can lead to chronic fatigue and symptoms of overtraining. We should get, just like every doctor tells us, seven and a half to nine hours of sleep to fully regenerate. Some folks feel they can get by just fine on four to six hours, but studies have shown that except in a tiny percentage, like ultra marathon legend Dean Karnazes, this is simply not true. We will always work better after better rest.
I apologize for not getting a great example of great recovery out on RTR. I spoil myself in two ways, once each, during the ride. After the toughest day, I will get a massage. I recommend this for anyone, rider, runner, swimmer, parent, whomever. It is worth every cent you spend. This ride, I got mine after the 91-mile day that included the ascent of Wolf Creek Pass and the fast, flat ride into Alamosa. It works wonders.
The other thing I like to do on big events is get my own room on the last night on the road. I like a particular hotel chain because they serve free breakfast and usually have a pool. It allows me to get a bit better rest when I’m not worried about the guy with sleep apnea buzzing like a chainsaw two sleeping bags away. The result was much fresher legs the next day.
If you are training for an event and at home, make sleep as much a priority as the workout. We need both. Don’t skip the last hillclimb and don’t skip the last hour of sleep.
I often think of the overly-dramatic, overly-romanticized line delivered by Mel Gibson in Braveheart when I swing a leg over my bike. I think of the line when I’m driving between Lyons and Boulder and see the long lines of riders spinning, joking and prodding each other as they go. On Monday, while returning some borrowed stuff to a family friend, I saw two kids on BMX bikes wearing life vests. FREEDOM!
That is the sort of freedom I am aimed toward. That giddy feeling before an innocent adventure. Going to go find crayfish, like my daughter did this weekend. Going to explore the empty field or backcountry trail. Going to ride roads I have never seen. It’s a freedom of childhood summers.
I think this is why there are so many rides in Colorado. We live in an unbelievably pretty, scenic state. Mountains, meadows, flowers, old towns, serpentine roads, all add up to that feeling. The exploration of youth. The innocence that we, of a certain age, seem to crave.
Being able to do this, just jump on my bike and ride all day for a week, is a blessing beyond measure. Saturday, I board a bus bound for Telluride, I reputedly beautiful, old, mining mountain town. I will ride from there all the way back to Colorado Springs, a wonderful city, itself. I will document this journey, relaying back here so I can share the adventure with those who, for whatever reason, won’t be making that trek this year. I plan updates to my blog, waltoutwest.com, and of course, eptrail.com.
Speaking of cravings, I picked up Allen Lim’s Feed Zone Portables last week. It’s a cookbook created by Lim, former team physiologist for Garmin and RadioShack cycling teams. He and chef Biju Thomas created the food and the cookbook as an alternative to processed energy food that has arisen since the late ’80s.
I’m a big advocate of real food. Once I got an idea of how much better I perform and how much tastier real food can be, ditching to bars and bites and gels was not that hard. I started making my own “energy bites” from a recipe in Bicycling magazine a while back. Crushed nuts, diced figs, dates, salt, honey and cocoa powder; what could be bad. Then, I discovered a biscotti recipe in Triathlete magazine with nuts, almond flour and dried fruit. They were a huge hit on my group ride a few weeks back. Armed with this knowledge and an enthusiasm for cooking, I was ready for Lim and Thomas’ book.
The book has a variety of foods. One is not forced into sweet or salty, not just sandwiches or cookies. It has Allen Lim’s now-famous rice cakes, the oatmeal that Kristin Armstrong credits for her gold-medal performance in the Women’s Olympic Time Trial in London, eggs cooked in muffin tins and much more.
I plan to put it to the test. I will cook up some of these delights and pack them for Ride the Rockies. As much as I enjoyed the crepes last year, and the pancake guy, this might be a bit more economical, as well as better for me.
With any luck at all, I hope to have images and videos of the rides, themselves. I have a passion for coffee and unique coffee houses, so I hope to explore those. I will also have the chance to meet several cycling stars and luminaries along the way. I will also, finally, be able to give a first-hand review of the Shimano 9000 group set, as well as the C24 wheels. Of course, it is also loads of fun just talking to regular people on the rides. What sort of person spends a week’s hard-earned vacation torturing themselves over mountain passes? If you read this, you already know, but it’s fun to get another rider’s perspective.
One last little note: if you want to see some racing or find the desire to search for bike treasures, a bike swap is scheduled for Sunday, June 9, at the North Boulder Park during the NOBO Classic Bike Race. It’s a “Drop and swap” meet, so bring those old items that you don’t need. Someone else might be look for that very item.
Well, I’m off. Check the eptrail.com web site daily for updates. Also, if you just can’t get enough, head to waltoutwest.com, as well. This is going to be great.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding . . . the Rockies.
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.
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.
Our sport is supposed to be about the fun. Yes, there is suffering. Yes, plenty of cycling involves challenging oneself and being uncomfortable. In the end, however, it is supposed to be about the fu, the pleasure of riding.
I am reading the autobiography of Manx sprinter Mark Cavendish and found a similar conclusion. He describes the suffering of the mountain stages in the grand tours, about the exhaustion of riding for three weeks. He also writes about the disappointment of leaving the Tour early in 2008 and not getting to Paris for the last sprint.
He also had harsh words for the riders ejected from the ’08 Tour for doping. It made me think, why would someone risk health, career and standing for a win. My conclusion was they put something else ahead of the fun.
I don’t mean to judge. Cycling in Europe is akin to prize fighting in the US, or a lot of pro sports. They often attract athletes who feel it the only shot at rise out of dire economic circumstances. If that’s the case, I could see how someone might be lured into doping to get as far from poverty as possible. Some don’t have the luxury that most of us leisure riders have.
I’m not condoning this behavior, either. The reason Cavendish was so animate about the dopers, in this case Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher, When the dopers set there enhanced paces, they threatened guys like Cav’ who is clean and not a climber. The major Tours set a time limit based of the stage winner’s time. Come in after the cut off and you go home. Ricco broke away and won stage nine that year, putting pressure on the sprinters, then Piepoli put in an inhuman ride the next day.
You may have heard of the Autobus, or Grupetto. These are the groups of big men at the back of these climbing stages, generally sprinters working together to make the cutoff. They are not lollygagging. They are suffering just to suffer all over again the next day. When the cheaters put in the crazy-fast rides up the high mountains, they not only take away the chances of the clean climbers, they endanger a great many sprinters. This same sort of event also reenforces the notion that a rider has to dope to win. Luckily, the ’08 Tour also showcased the advances in the doping tests, resulting in the aforementioned ejections.
Fear is a big motivator. Fear motivates a kid from a broken home in a Dallas suburb to cheat, cheat to an unprecedented level, and deny cheating to protect all that was gained by cheating. Fear, in turn, causes corporate sponsors to flee the sport. It causes coverups and improvements in catching the cheaters. I have to count myself as lucky that I never got to ride at a level in which any of this was a consideration. I’m lucky that I can just ride for fun.
Last weekend was a great example of fun and suffering. The Paris-Roubaix, possibly the monument of Monuments, was won, for the third time, by Swiss RadioShack rider Fabian Cancellara. While everyone predicted his triumph, it was not as predicted. Spartacus did not simply ride away from everyone as he did in the 2011 Paris-Roubaix, or even as he did the weekend before in the Tour of Flanders. He found himself working hard to catch a break in the last half of the race, then dragging a formidable group with him to nearly the end. Bad luck derailed a few, then Cancellara had to out-sprint Belgian hopeful Sep Vanmarcke of the Blanco Pro Racing team on the track in Roubaix.
Cancellara was clearly happy to win his third cobblestone trophy, but he was also clearly spent. The cobbles of the road took a toll on big Fabian, who now looks forward to a break before the summer grand tours start in May.
Many expected Spartacus to have his way with the race on Sunday. Gone was his chief rival, four-time Roubaix winner Tom Boonen. The big Belgian crashed out of the Tour of Flanders a week before. Boonen was hoping to add his name to the short and distinguished list of five-time Paris-Roubaix winners which includes, of course, Eddie Merckx. Tornado Tom now awaits the healing process and the grand tours of summer.
One last Belgian Monument note; On the podium of the Tour of Flanders, Slovak sprinter Peter Sagan was caught in photos grabbing the backside of a podium girl as she was presenting the winner with his trophies. This week, Sagan saw the young lady again. Maya Leye is a 25-year-old who works for Flanders Classics, the organization that promotes and stages the Tour of Flanders. Leye was on the podium with Sagan again on Wednesday, April 10, to present Sagan with his prize for winning the Brabant Arrow race. Sagan presented Leye with his winner’s bouquet and a public apology. Perhaps the swaggering Slovak learned a little tact out of the who incident.
I plan to continue having fun. It’s a challenge with the late-season snow. I have ridden outside perhaps three times this year, once on the course on which I race this Saturday. I have to remember that it’s about the fun. It does not really matter how well I place. It matters that I am able to push myself. It matters that I get to compete. This won’t determine a paycheck. It won’t change the course of my life. It’s just for the fun of it.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going racing.
BTW, the photo was taken by Tom de Waele for Omega Pharma/Quick Step