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!
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.
May is painted pink on the international cycling calendar. Pink is the color of victory. Pink is the color of triumph. Pink is the color of legend in Italy.
The Giro d’Italia is slated to begin next Saturday along the Mediterranean coast with a team time trial, as this race so often does. For those of us just escaping winter’s icy grip, or those still trying to shake it off, the palm trees of Sanremo are the signs of hope, of the summer soon to arrive. To see the tight, double-paceline of the team time trial blasting past the sea and the swaying palms brings lightness to hearts and freshness to tired legs, as well as a new vision to eyes too long inside on the stationary trainer.
One of Italy’s favorite sons, and 2013 champion, Vincenzo Nibali, has chosen to focus all energies on the Tour this year, so there will be no pink and Astana turquoise this season. Nairo Quintana of Movistar and Sky’s Chris Froome have also decided to skip the Giro to better prepare for the TdF.
All eyes will be on a different Spaniard as El Pistolero, Alberto Contador, attempts the Giro-Tour double. Contador will lead a slightly disheveled Tinkoff-Saxo squad through Italy without the help of master tactician and team founder Bjarne Riis. Riis was jettisoned from the squad after a falling-out with Olag Tinkoff, the team owner. In spite of being the Yankees of the cycling world with such stars as Contador, former two-time Giro champ Ivan Basso and Slovakian sprinter Peter Sagan, the team has little to show for their extravagant payroll. I suppose that makes them more like the Knicks than the Yankees.
A bit of history; the last Giro-Tour double-winner was tragic cycling hero Marco Pantani. Il Pirata took both grand tours in 1998, forever sealing the little climber’s name in cycling lore. Unfortunately, the diminutive, enigmatic Italian was booted from the Giro in 1999 at Madonna di Campiglio, for doping, with one mountain stage remaining and while wearing the Maglia Rosa. He was suspended from competition for the remainder of that season, and while his career never fully recovered, he had enough fire in his heart and his legs to treat cycling fans to an epic battle with fellow doper Lance Armstrong during the 2000 TdF. The little pirate would die of a massive cocaine overdose, alone in a Rimini, Italy, hotel room on St. Valentine’s Day, 2004.
Now I can not officially endorse using the Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette with the top-of-the-line Dura Ace derailleur. One should probably take the advice of the experts and manufacturers and buy the Ultegra long-cage rear derailleur, as it is designed to fit this cassette. So, pay no attention to me when I say WOW DO I LOVE THE WAY THIS SETUP WORKS!
I had a tough Ride the Rockies last year when, on day one, we climbed out of Boulder and up the 11,306-foot Berthoud Pass. Snow and the climb made for achy knees. Day four involved an interminable climb from State Bridge to Avon. My knees have never hurt quite so much. This is when I vowed to get a better climbing gear. So I have.
I actually have all of the proper equipment. I have the Ultegra derailleur in a box in the workshop. I just don’t want to haul it to Boulder to have it put on. I could do the job, but I don’t want to replace cables and housing, for which, again, I would want to travel to Boulder, about 36 miles down the canyon. So far, I have had no shifting issues. I have not taken it out on anything truly steep, yet. I hope to do that next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.
While pink is the color of May, July is decidedly yellow. So is my team’s jerseys for July’s Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation Courage Classic. That’s officially how one is supposed to mention the event on first reference. I’ve been in “The Media” for a while. So the Courage Classic is a fund-raising event for the hospital foundation. It’s a great organization, a good cause and probably the best ride I do each year. I mention it now because I need to start raising donations.
The Courage Classic itself is the payoff for raising funds. It’s three days of riding through the heart of Colorado’s ski country, as well as at least one classic route. This year’s ride starts, as it did last season, with the Copper Triangle; 80 miles from Copper Mountain Resort, up to Leadville, the highest town in North America at 10,200 feet, down through Minturn, through Vail, and up the steeper west side of Vail Pass, before plunging back down into Copper.
Day two is a bit different than in years past. This year, riders will start in Copper, zip down the bike path to Frisco and Dillon, around the east side of Lake Dillon, on to Keystone, over Swan Mountain, through Breckenridge, then up Hoosier Pass, then returning to Breck and finishing in Copper.
Day three is relatively short, just about 35 miles from Copper to Breck and back to Copper for the final BBQ party.
If you are interested in joining the team, we are Team Estes and have been together in various forms for six years. We tend to be pretty small, but we have a great time. The ride runs from Saturday, July 18, through Monday, July 20, based out of Copper Mountain Resort in Summit County, Colorado.
Follow this link to donate to our team for the ride. Thanks for your support.
I still have about two weeks before I can test out my new Shimano Sports Camera and its iPhone app. I still have to buy the tiny media card. When I do finally get the card, I will be sure to record one of my favorite descents to test it out, then post here.
Until then, have fun, be safe. I’m going riding!
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!
Fending off cold
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.
Frost on the Pumpkin
So, it’s getting chilly here at 7,522 feet, and my career path change has given me the opportunity to commute by bike. Up here, this time of the year, there will be times in the commute when bundling and lighting up are necessary. My shift starts at 2 p.m. and lasts to 10:30 p.m. When I’m done, it’s cold and dark. This gives me the chance to put a few items through their paces.
The first thing I worry about, no matter the season, is seeing and being seen. I’ve been hit by a car once. I saw it coming, so I was able to take measures to minimize damage. What it came down to was that the driver did not see me. Head lights in 1995 were not as bright for as reasonable a price as they are today. The old head light I probably picked up at Olympus Cycles in Omaha, Nebraska took four “AA” batteries, had an incandescent bulb and a running time of possibly two or three hours. Not good in a Midwest mid-February.
My current head light is the Cygolite Pace 750. With 750 lumens (candle power) at it’s brightest setting, it is plenty bright for commuting. It comes with a Li-Ion battery that charges via USB cable in the light housing. The mount is an adjustable quick release, so it fits multiple handlebars. The LED light’s highest (Boost) mode lasts for 90 minutes, while the lowest of the eight settings (day pulse) will go for 22 hours. I was so impressed that I recently purchased the CygoLite helmet mount and an additional CygoLite 800 OSP LED light. It has not arrived, so that review has to wait.
My little town is slowly returning to normal. My neighborhood should have the flush ban lifted in the next two weeks. One annual event that goes on is tonight’s Shining Ball at the Stanley Hotel. The hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s famous horror classic, though the best-know Stanley Kubric movie was filmed in Oregon, while the mini-series was returned to the hotel that inspired the book. The event is a nod to King, as well as a chance for grown ups to dress up and act out alter-egos. My wife and her best friend are doing Mexican Dia de los Muertos “sugar scull” costumes while I will wear my usual horns. The ball has been sold out for weeks, so I don’t feel bad about writing now, but be ready. Imagine a great costume and get tickets for next year.
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.
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.
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
Like a lot of life, cycling is not always predictable. Anything can happen, not just during the ride, itself, but even well before hand. Last season it was a crash that changed my training. A sink hole near Leadville changed the Courage Classic route while wildfire smoke forced a modification in the Ride the Rockies. These are things we can’t control. So what can be done? What can you do to prepare? Practice a good attitude.
I received an e-mail this morning telling me that there would be a change in the Courage Classic route again this year. Lake County High School is removing asbestos, so the usual day 1 start and day 3 finish had to be scrapped. The up side, for me, is the chance to ride the 80-mile Copper Triangle.
And that’s the difference. I can’t do anything about asbestos removal. I am actually happy not to be around that stuff. I have to find the positive. I have not ridden the whole Copper Triangle route; Copper Mountain to Leadville to Minturn, over Vail Pass and back to Copper. This will be a great day. I’m kind of big, but I will enjoy dragging myself up to Leadville and back over the west side of Vail Pass. I look forward to encouraging other riders up and over. I even, or perhaps especially, look forward to dragging the light little climbers to the foot of that last climb outside of Vail.
Attitude is the most important part of this sport. Dreading a climb only makes the suffering worse. Look forward to the climbs. Look forward to the wind. Smile as much as you can. It makes a huge difference.
Of course, preparation is pretty important, as well. Get out and ride hills. Go stick your nose out in the wind. Practice the things you will need to know. I had an e-mail not too long ago concerning changing tires. The pros have mechanics who hop out of following cars to change the whole wheel. We, mere mortals, have to figure out how to change those tubes and re-inflate the tube to get back into the ride.
First, be patient. Delays happen. Try not to schedule the rest of your day too tightly around a ride. Second, as I have discovered, swearing and flailing arms doesn’t get the tube changed any faster. After much research, I make that statement with confidences.
Next, get off the road. Like most cycling things, you want to make sure you are being as safe as reasonably possible. Find a nice rock or tuft of grass. Think of this as a short recovery.
At this point I should mention, when training, you should have tire levers and a small repair kit with you. That said, find those levers. Stick the end that looks like a scoop in between the tire beed and the rim. Take the second one and do the same, fairly close to the first one, then lever those things to pull the beed off of the rim. This can require a bit of effort if it’s colder out. Again, be patient. Losing one’s mind now only leads to bleeding knuckles and lost levers.
The levers often come in threes, anymore. If that’s the case for you, take the third lever, stick it in between the beed and the tire, again, and not between the other two levers. Now, pull that third lever around the rim to get the tire beed loose.
Now remove the old tube. Next, carefully run your hands around the inside of the tire to find what might have caused the flat. Again, be careful, in case there is a hunk of glass or a nail in there. Once you have removed the offending piece, get back to the tube.
Blow a little air into the tube. Run your hand around the tube to find the hole. If you are sure this was not a pinch flat, caused by low air in the tube, then a bump, causing the rim to pinch a hole in the tube, rough up the area around the hole. If you have “speed patches”, apply the patch. If not, pull out the rubber cement from your flat kit. You do have a flat kit, right? Spread a little on the area you just roughed up. Let the cement cure or dry just a bit, then apply the patch. Rub the patch a bit to make sure it has adhered to the tube. Next, retrace your steps.
Recheck the tire to make sure you didn’t miss a thorn or anything. Blow a little air back into the tube, which makes replacing it on the rim a bit easier. Stick it back inside the tire, then let the air back out. Re-seat the tire beed on the rim. Check to make sure no part of the tube is pinched between the tire and the rim. This will ruin the whole process pretty quickly. Once you’re sure the tube is completely inside the tire, pump the tire back up and be on your way.
There is a lazier way, but I only recommend it for races and organized ride. Bring a CO2 cartridge and an extra tube. Put the bad tube in your jersey pocket. Never toss on old tube on the ground. It’s littering, as well as inviting bad karma. Much quicker but more expensive and a bit wasteful. Save it for big events.
One more thing really quickly; we are now approaching week three of training. We should be up to two rides equalling 30 mile during the week and one 20-mile ride on the weekend. If you know your normal average speed outside, apply that to an indoor class, if you need to. I rarely get to ride outside during the week, but I teach three classes a week, which evens out.
We are supposed to see snow all weekend. It must be nearly spring. Find a good, hard indoor class or find a video for riding your trainer. I will have an exciting announcement concerning such videos probably next week.
Open hearts and wallets
We are now 14 weeks shy of Ride the Rockies. We should already be
training with that in mind. The earlier one starts, the easier it will
be to achieve the goal of spending a week climbing the beautiful
byways of Colorado. And while suffering is an inherent part of this,
at least you’re not being chased by Jens Voigt or other top pros. Such
a chase will be fun to watch, however.
The recent rumor floating around town is that we can expect nearly
100,000 visitors on the day the USA Pro Challenge rolls through Estes
Park on the second to last day of the race. That’s 100,000 people from
36 states and 16 countries. That’s 100,000 cycling enthusiasts who
average a household income of $113,918, itching to spend it. During
the first USAPCC, they brought about $67 million. The additional money
from traveling press from all over the world brought the total to
$83.5 million in 2011, $90 million in 2012. Imagine 100,000 hungry
stomachs, 100,000 visitors needing a gift from Estes Park, and more
than a few of them wanting to stay over night. Like the Tour de
France, or even Ride the Rockies, this event will expose a great many
people to our little town.
With international press exposure, many millions of potential visitors
will look at the images and think, I want to go there. This is a
chance to shine. This will have positive economic effects far beyond
just one day in late August. It will open us up to the nation and to
the world. Thy will come to see it themselves with eyes and wallets
To the curmudgeons who can only think of how this will inconvenience
them, yes, this 1/365th of your year will be bustling. That’s the way
it goes. Stay home. For the rest of us, we’ve seen the races on TV.
Your bike will be the best way to get to the best vantage points in
Now, back to riding. The fine folks at Ride the Rockies have provided
a handy table to help riders prepare for that wonderful week in June
when more than 2,000 riders spend a week astride their favorite bike.
The table can be found under the Rider Area tab at RideTheRockies.com.
Last Last Saturday, February 23, is when their calendar begins. We
should accumulate 40 miles for the week. This next week, beginning
March 2, adds 10 miles to the total. They separate it between weekend
and weekday riding miles. This weekend, they suggest fitting in about
20 miles. I will easily get that just in my extra job. I am, however,
open to fitting in more.
I will offer this each week, knowing that training with someone makes
training easier. I would be open to riding the area’s favorite road,
US 36 from Lyons to Boulder on Sunday morning. It is hilly without
being too nasty for this early in the season. It will also be warmer
down there. If you need to start your miles and want to ride with
someone else, reach me either by phone or e-mail, both found below. If
you are new to road riding, or riding in a group, this would be a
great opportunity to start. Learn rules of the road and, possibly,
roadside repairs. I’m also a big fan of interesting coffee shops. I
know of at least two that would fall within the 20 miles of the ride.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.Cycling star Andy Schleck picks his way through the crowd in the cyclist village before the Colorado Springs prologue of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. No other sport allows fans to get so close to the stars.
Fit to help
The holiday season is just beginning to ramp up. For many, including myself, it consists of the opposing forces of wonderful holiday food and trying to stay in reasonable shape in the off-season. As I am reminded, year after year, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The giving season offers ample opportunity to keep fitness and stay in the holiday mood.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, Boulder Cycle Sport will sponsor Cranksgiving Boulder, a charity ride with a twist. Show up at the Boulder Cycle Sport south location, 629 S. Broadway with your bike, any bike, and $20 by noon. Participants will be given a checklist and will ride to grocery store “check points” and buy an item or two, then on to the next. The race winner will be the first rider to get back to the bike shop with all his or her groceries. The food will be donated.
Prizes will also be awarded for best costume and oldest ridable bike. Bring $20, a bike, a helmet and a lock and be ready for fun.
The event not only gathers much-needed food for those less fortunate, but also shines a positive light on the local cycling community. If this sounds good, sign up at the link found on the shop’s website: bouldercyclesport.com/community/cranksgiving-boulder.
Closer to home, the CrossFit Estes Park community is organizing and sweating for one of its own. This Saturday, Nov. 17, the box at 1755, Spur 66, just past the Rock Inn, will host a fund-raiser for local CrossFitter, artist and all-round great guy, Joel York.
A few years back, York, who’s only 35, was diagnosed with cancer. While doctors caught it in plenty of time, hospital visits and treatment get expensive. The fund-raiser will help defray the costs.
Bring whatever you can for a donation. Whatever money the event raises will be matched by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, so be generous.
York is an upbeat, humble and energetic member of the community who has lived in Estes Park for nearly 20 years. He is not only an artist, but also an instructor for CrossFit Estes Park. While his technique seems nearly flawless to most, he is fond of saying, “It’s all a stupid game,” and “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”
The fund-raiser will, of course, consist of a workout that gym owner Eric Adams describes as “easily scalable.” The idea is to make it so that anyone at any fitness level can participate. It’s much more about supporting Joel than showing off fitness and you don’t have to belong to CrossFit Estes Park to participate. The gym will open at 6 a.m. and remain open until 4 p.m. Group workouts are planned for 6, 7 and 10:30 a.m., as well as 2:30 that afternoon.
Even if you are not able to workout, come down to donate, then cheer the athletes on. It’s a great event for a great community member. I’m a bit biased, I’ll admit. I’ve worked out and played hockey with Joel for much of the last 12 years. He has a great attitude, especially when he’s making a skill I’m no good at look easy. The least I can do is show up and sweat a little for him. I encourage you to do the same.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going fund-raising.
Look for joy
I didn’t write a column for my paper this week. We ran out of time. I was looking for something to write, just to make sure I had a post this week when I got a little bad news.
A young woman I met when I first moved to Estes Park seemed to have lost all hope and ended her own life. She was only 28.
I met Meghan when she was still in high school. I had worked for my paper for about a year and a half when I photographed her and her teammates setting their school’s record in the 400 yard freestyle relay at the Colorado State Girls swim meet. She even earned a swimming scholarship, but had to give it up after opting not to have surgery on her shoulders. I was not too close with the girl, but things seemed to go a bit south from that point.
She and her mother lived down the street from my family. When she started studying massage, I was happy to offer my beat-up muscles for the betterment of her education.
She married pretty young, after a bit of a scandal, but remained married and had several beautiful children. Though she always had a bit of melancholy about her. I don’t know if this eventually led to her ending her own life, but it certainly makes me think.
First thing I did when I found out was hug my own daughter, make sure she knew she can talk to her parents at any time, no matter what. Then, like anyone, I tried to make sense of it. I suppose it’s nothing I am supposed to figure out.
I can make sure I look for my joy. I have to make sure my daughter and wife do the same. What makes us most happy? My bike, my family and photography do this for me. I have to make sure I talk to the people I love. Never loose hope.
That’s huge for me. I don’t know what led Meghan. I don’t know why she lost hope. I just have to make sure that I and those I love don’t head that way. Life is not always easy, doesn’t always turn out the way we planned or hoped, but what can we make of it? That is what will keep me going.
I may not have hoped and planned to be a small-town photographer, but there is joy in this. My child’s classmates light up when I walk into her school. People occasionally come out of shops to compliment my work. People ask about my family. There is a great deal of happiness in it.
Never give up. Never loose hope. Talk to someone. Find something that brings you joy.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
Life Goes On
In the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong affair coming to light, a laundry list of sponsors have terminated their relationships with the now-disgraced cycling legend. Former teammate Levi Leipheimer was fired from his team, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, seemingly for coming clean. It’s all a terrible mess. I have some suggestions to get over this, if only for a while.
The Estes Park High School Mountain Bike Racing Team heads to beautiful Fruita to wrap up their first season. Most of these kids had never owned a mountain bike before this fall, much less raced one. While they aren’t expected to win, they have all made huge strides and shown a lot of courage and character in choosing this life-long sport.
In the first race of the season, many of them didn’t finish. Now, as the season draws to a close, they are learning new things about themselves, as well as the sport, that will carry on well beyond their high school years.
Whether you have a kid on the team, happen to love mountain biking, love the Fruita area, or any combination there of, make the drive to sunny and warm Fruita to cheer on these kids. Then, maybe stop by Over The Edge Sports in Fruita, where you can rent a bike of your own, then head to the Book Cliffs or out to the Kokopelli Trail and have some two-wheeled fun of your own. It would make for a great family weekend.
If, like me, you just don’t have the time or gas money to make the drive west, head to Denver on Saturday and take in a bit of bike-geek culture. The annual VeloSwap fills the National Western Complex from 9 to 4. If you need a new bike, some components, clothing or just love people watching, this is a fantastic event.
I’ve written about this every year I’ve had the chance, and I get more excited every time. I’ve met Graham Watson, celebrated cycling photographer, at the event. I’ve met Ironman World Champion Chris MacCormac their. I’ve touched David Millar’s Garmin bikes and purchased replica jerseys of Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi and “Fast” Freddy Rodriguez. I’ve picked up carbon race wheels for $80. I’ve carried out countless pairs of socks and shorts. On at least two occasions, I’ve helped cement a love of bicycle culture for a friend.
Industry companies like Rudy Project, VeloNews, MAVIC will chow off their new gear. Area bike shops like Full Cycles, Big Ring Cycles and Sports Garage will have booths to sell off last season’s gear. Small Planet Foods and Larabar will be there. Magazines, massage therapists, various lube and skin care companies and at least one bike insurance firm will all show for the event.
Subaru sponsors a shuttle to make getting from your car to the event hall and back with all your new gear easy. If you can, Bike Denver, a cycling advocacy group, encourages attendees to ride to the event. They will have bike parking with security. The Boulder Center for Sports Medicine will hold Computrainer events throughout the day with prizes.
Tickets are $8 at the door. Parking is $10, but you can usually make that up in short order once you get inside. You can even bring your old innertubes that clutter your garage. Green Guru collects them to make bags, wallets and purses. Go down and spend the day, or shoot in, find what you need and get out. Which ever you prefer, the drive will be worth it.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going swapping.
Okay, so I was wrong. We do, in fact, get to see the evidence against US cycling legend Lance Armstrong. It looks really bad.
The US Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, released their 1,000-pages “Reasonable Decision” in the case against the former seven-time Tour de France champion and leader of the US Postal Service, Discovery Channel and Radio Shack teams. It’s one thing when nemesis Filippo Simeoni is sited, after all, Simeoni sued Armstrong for defamation in 2003. It’s a whole other matter when faithful lieutenant and friend George Hincapie testifies. In cycling circle, “Big” George is beyond reproach.
The paper sites the testimony of Hincapie, Simeoni, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, Jon Vaughters and Dave Zabriskie against, not only Armstrong, but Johan Bruyneel, the infamous Dr. Michele Ferrari, team doctors and trainers, as well. Nine different cyclists who were questioned in the affair were also patients of Dr. Ferrari, and many were teammates of Armstrong’s over the years.
I wrote a while back that I agreed with another writer that we need one standard in doping cases and that it really needs to be physical evidence. After looking at USADA’s document, it’s hard to imagine a defense that would exonerate the one-time Boss.
The charges are: use or attempted use of a known banned substance; possession; trafficking; administration or attempted administration; assisting, encouraging aiding, abetting, covering up of the violations and witness intimidation and retaliation against witnesses.
All of this was dug up without the help of the federal case against Armstrong that was dropped. The prosecutor did not respond to requests by USADA for the files they had collected. The sheer amount of evidence against the Texan is overwhelming. USADA considered all of this so damning that they waived the usual eight-year statute of limitations.
I suppose Lance fought so hard all of these years because he had a lot to lose. He’s not just an athlete. He was a hero. He was the man who faced down poverty, raised by his single mother, was the youngest world champion in a generation, and, lest we forget, faced down a death sentence from cancer. He is the voice and face of survivors. He was the public face of the US Postal Service, Trek bicycles, Oakley sunglasses, Nike and his own Lance Armstrong Foundation. He was the face that launched 100-million rubber bracelets. He gave hope. He gave inspiration. Now what?
The real trickiness may lie in how the International Cyclists Union handles the affair. As the report notes, 20 of the 21 podium finishers of the TdFs that Lance won were also linked to doping and a mind-boggling 36 of 40 podium finishers were implicated from 1996 to 2010. While ‘everybody’s doing it’ is not a defense, it kind of puts Lances wins in perspective.
I will still buy all seven videos of the Tours that Lance won. It’s pretty clear that in a sick way, he was competing on a level plain. The drugs Armstrong is accused of using were available to everyone. So, when I watch the dual between Lance and the late Marco Pantani in the 2000 Tour, it’s not some Texas bully and some poor Italian has-been, it’s the Pirate and the Boss, one on one. It was the greatest climbers dual of the generation. Similarly, in 2003 when Lance barely beat Jan Ulrich, it was the Boss and the Kaiser: the best rivalry of the time.
My lovely wife has chosen to take her yellow bracelet off. That may have more to do with how Armstrong conducts his personal life and his politics. I will continue to sport my yellow bracelet, not for Lance or his foundation, but for the hope that it represents. I won’t boycott the USA Pro Challenge just because Lance made it possible. I will be grateful that someone could bring pro cycling of this caliber back to Colorado.
I get it. In all reasonable likelihood, he cheated. I understand that. Today, I own a road bike. I imagine myself climbing the Alps and the Pyrenees. I fantasize giving a rival “The Look”. I even imagine storming down the Champs-Elysees, the cobbles of Northern France and Belgium and the last sprint in Milan due to Armstrong. If not for Lance, I might not have this path. I have to acknowledge the bad, but I won’t let it spoil the good. Shame on you, Lance. But at the same time, thanks.
Have fun, be safe. I’m still going riding.
The Estes Park High School mountain bike team got their first taste of competition this weekend. While none surprised the field at the season-opening race, the riders got invaluable experience to carry into the next race. Meanwhile, while things change, they really stay the same in the pro road ranks.
Alberto Contador, riding for Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, put together an amazing last week of the Vuelta a Espana to overtake Joaquim Rodriguez and win his first grand tour back from his doping ban. On the podium in Madrid, Contador put up seven fingers, signifying the wins he’d have if not for his disqualifications from the ban. This is Contador’s second victory in his home nation’s grand tour.
The race had been an amazing battle between Contador and fellow Spaniard, Rodriguez, who rides for the Russian Katusha squad. For the most of the last ten days of the tour, ramps were painfully steep, but Rodriguez was able to hold off “El Pistolero”. Then, last Wednesday, Contador pounced on a seemingly easy climbing day. Many viewed the attack as a suicide mission, that surely the peloton would catch Contador. Not only did he stay away, he put important, and significant, time in on both Rodriguez and the dangerous and eventual runner-up Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.
When the peloton rolled into the Spanish capitol, they were greeted as conquering heroes, Spaniards sweeping the podium.
Contador is still credited with wins at the 2007 and 2009 Tours de France, the 2008 Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. His wins in the 2010 TdF and 2011 Giro were stripped after the doping ban was enforced.
The Estes Park High School mountain bike team will have no such worries this season. The fledgling squad traveled to Northrop Colorado on Sunday for their first Colorado Cycling League race. While the earth did not move, the team put in respectable performances.
The Chalk Creek Challenge was won by the team from Boulder High School with their arch rival, Fairview, slotting in second in the Division 1 results. The Estes Park team was 12th, with most riders finishing and earning points. Jeremy Norris was the best-placed boy, with 352, riding in the D1 Freshman class. Marin Kingston was the best Ladycat, earning 333 points and placing 37th in the D1/D2 JV class.
Lauren Igel earned 305 points for her 17th place among D1/D2 sophomore girls. All five sophomore boys, Zach Brittain, Eric Edwards, Otto Engle, Barney Treadway and Kyle Collins finished their race to accumulate points.
Once again, none of this was earth shattering, but the kids are out doing it. I hope they continue riding and racing. The sport is not easy, especially if you’ve never ridden a mountain bike before, like most of the team. I hope fans and parents support the team in its efforts. I also hope they, themselves, see their improvements and appreciate how challenging their chosen path is. I hope they find pride in their efforts and keep pushing themselves.
One little gem I can throw in to tie these two stories together; Contado said, after serving the ban he did not feel he deserved, then winning the tour of Spain, “I do not race to shut people’s mouths, I race because it gives me pleasure.” I hope the team finds the pleasure and joy in racing and keeps at it.
Be safe, have fun. I’m going riding.
Bring The Challenge
I’m watching the second stage of the USA Cycling Challenge on my laptop while I write this. Don’t tell my daughter, but I will know the results long before I turn on the big-screen tonight. Today, some of the very best cyclists in the world are riding a road I pedaled back in June, over Blue Mesa and past the reservoir before the first sprint point in Gunnison. I’m planning my weekend, as the race will cruise near Allenspark, through Lyons and into Boulder on Saturday. The race concludes in Denver on Sunday. Thanks to NBC, the whole world will see some of the amazing terrain we get to see all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world got to see our little piece of Paradise?
Local cycling enthusiasts would love to lure the race through Estes Park for 2013, I among them. I realize that our little town probably doesn’t have the money to host a start or a finish, but wouldn’t it be nice just to have some of the fittest athletes on earth come cruising through, bringing fans and fan dollars with them?
There’s more. My mother-in-law will occasionally sit down and watch broadcasts of the Tour de France, not because she’s any kind of cycling fan, but because the cameras often pan to show a wider view of the area the riders a racing through. During these broadcasts, she and my daughter will say, “we really need to go there.” With NBC beaming images of Colorado to 200 countries, I’m pretty sure some family, somewhere, will express the same thing. That could lead to more visitors.
I have friends who have visited some of those areas of France that I watch every July. With climbs here like Trail Ridge Road, an enthusiast from France or Switzerland is bound to heed the call and bring a family, as well as a bike, with them.
I don’t know the economic statistics of cycling tourists from other nations. I know that in the case of cyclists who participate in Ride the Rockies, they average a yearly income in the six-digit range. While the immediate impact of the race coming through might be good, lots of folks grabbing lunch or drinks or gifts while awaiting the peloton, the long-term impact would be better than any of the advertising our local promotional groups can afford.
It’s more than the lycra-covered butts or shaved legs. Fans enjoy the views of the high peaks, the waterfalls, the historic mining districts, our state’s history. All of this would be shared with millions of cycling fans all over the world. We have plenty of scenery and history for visitors to enjoy.
Now then, day one of the USA Cycling Challenge saw Garmin-Sharp rider Tyler Farrar score his first win in over a year. On a day that was much faster and much harder than anyone anticipated, Farrar and the main peloton caught Garmin-Sharp teammates Tom Danielson and Peter Stetina just outside of the finishing town of Telluride. A break-away group powered off the front less than six miles into the 125.6-mile stage. The break went out so hard that the world got the rare vision of American time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie, how shall I say this, ejecting his lunch. The punishing pace, which included the climb of Lizard Head Pass, put the race into Telluride about an hour sooner than the fastest assumed pace, 4 hours, 42 minutes.
Garmin-Sharp took four of the five awarded jerseys. Farrar took the first yellow leader’s jersey, as well as the green sprinters’ jersey. The King of the Mountains jersey went to former Durango resident Tom Danielson. The red-striped Most Aggressive Rider jersey was awarded to Stetina for his efforts in keeping Danielson out front. The one jersey that did not go to a Garmin-Sharp rider, the best young rider, went to Bontrager-Livestrong under-23 racer Gavin Mannion.
So far, this is not much of an indication as to who might hold any of these jerseys by Sunday. Farrar could hold the green jersey when all is said and done, but he is not likely to win the GC battle. Tom Danielson may get the polka-dots, but his aim is higher. Tommy “D” will want to yellow jersey by Denver. He’ll need a good, wide lead going into that time trial as the defending champion, Levi Leipheiner, is an accomplished rider against the clock.
Regardless, this should be a great race, one we should try to coax through Estes Park in the future. Just saying’.
I will throw in just a quick comment on Friday’s biggest cycling news. Lance was screwed from the moment USADA announce they would pursue the charges. USADA is beyond the law, if you check out their power. There are no appeals once they’ve ruled and they have only lost on arbitration once. I don’t know if Lance did it. I have not seen the evidence. The real problem is that no one outside of USADA has seen the evidence. No one can legally compel USADA to show what they have.
Whether Lance doped or not, his move to stop fighting is pretty much the best he could do for himself. To be honest, I would be surprised if he didn’t, but the way USADA is able to wield limitless power over our sport is ridiculous. They would have ruled themselves correct, whether Lance cheated or not.
I hope they don’t test group rides for excess caffein.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, possibly the most cumbersome name in pro cycling, returns to Colorado next week. The race winds 518 miles starting in Durango this year and ends in a time trial around Capital Hill in Denver. The race won’t come through Estes Park this year, but it gets close.
For stage six of the race, on Saturday, Aug. 25, what remains of the starting 135 riders meander 103.3 miles from the start in Golden into Boulder, up Boulder Canyon to Nederland, then north on Hwy. 72 to nearly Allenspark, where the peloton turns east on Hwy. 7 down to Lyons. The race then heads back to Boulder with a quick, steep detour up Lefthand Canyon and down Lee Hill Drive, before the challenging climb to the finish on Flagstaff Mountain.
If you want to watch in the traditional European way, have breakfast in Allenspark then wander down Hwy. 7 to the junction with Hwy. 72. Bring a picnic and relax. The earliest the race officials expect to get to that turn is 1:35 p.m. Keep your camera ready. The whole pack should whir past in about 10 minutes. After that, you can hang out and enjoy the afternoon, head back into Allenspark, chase the race down to Lyons, or if you feel particularly adventurous, try to get to the finish above Boulder before the race ends. This last option is what I’m going to try.
Plenty of American riders plan to make the start, including defending champion, Levi Leipheimer, this year riding for Omega Pharma-Quickstep. US National Champion Timmy Duggen will again ride for the Italian team Liquigas, along with long-time friend Ted King. The Tour de France’s best young rider, Tejay van Garderen will ride along side Boulder native Taylor Phinney, both riding for BMC Racing. The real marquee rider this year, however, will be BMC’s George Hincapie, who will be riding his final professional race.
Big George, as he is known, has an amazing resume. The 39-year-old Farmingdale, N.Y., native turned pro in 1994. He has finished the punishing Paris-Roubaix on 17 occasions. He has finished 15 consecutive Tours de France, a record. He is the only American ever to win the Ghent-Wevelgem and has ushered three different winners in nine Tours, also a record. All of this is impressive, but there’s more.
Big George is possibly the most respected American in pro cycling at the moment, not for his wins, though he has been US National Champ on three different occasions, not because he bends anyone to his will. George might be the nicest guy on two wheels.
George has an easy smile and will talk to anyone. He sacrifices for his team leader and he helps young rider negotiate the challenges of being a pro cyclist. This year he will, again turn himself inside-out for former Tour champ Cadel Evens, while helping build and hone the skills of van Garderen and Phinney. For seven days, he will ride through Colorado for his professional swan song.
If you have time next week and want to see a true professional, get to one of the stages to watch George ride by. Better yet, head down to Denver on Sunday, August 26, to see the finale and the after party. George’s team, BMC will hold a fundraiser party that evening with the likes of former pros Bob Roll, Ron Kiefle and legendary sprinter Davis Phinney from the 7-Eleven team. The event is called “Living the Ride” and features Team BMC director Jim Ochowicz, who also fouded and ran the 7-Eveven team. A silent auction at the event benefits the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. Tickets and more information can be found at CyclingSoul.com
Have fun, be safe. I’m going riding.