Tuesday, December 29

Slackadaisical

Two days...I've ridden my bike to work two days in December. Of course it is December in Colorado.

I am such a hypocrite. There have been plenty of days this month that I could have ridden. I was just lazy.

And my reasoning was this (list):

Dark when I ride to work
Cold (single digits and teens)
Snow/ice on the ground (best excuse by far)

Well, this morning I did fine with the dark. I can see well enough to ride. I wasn't cold at all. I think I may have finally nailed my dress. And the shoulders are dry and mostly clear. There were a few days that would have been tricky to ride. We did get a foot of snow last week.

Anyway, I'm back on track. In January I don't have to be in to work until 9am, so riding will be much easier.

Friday, December 18

Cold and Dark

I rode to work this morning. I left around 5:45 and got to work about 6:30. It was dark. It was cold.

I need a brighter headlight. The one I have is great for visibility. It has three options for solid or flashing LEDs, but they aren't bright enough to shed much light. Most of my ride has street lights, so its not a huge deal, but Rooney Road is pretty dark. There's not much ambient light there either.

My car is gone. We dropped it off last night. We're officially a one car family now.

I need a few things to complete my bicycle commuter costume:

Fender for MTB
Waterproof shoes (NOT bike shoes, those are wa-ay too expensive)
Brighter light for road bike
Better winter gloves for cycling
Eventually a roof-top rack for the car

Extra tubes for MTB

And that should do it. I've been doing this long enough that I have my system down pretty good. I might pick up some of those garment bags I saw at REI. They fold your clothes so they aren't wrinkled and it would be much easier to keep stuff dry on nasty days.

Thursday, December 17

Almost...

Getting over it. I feel much better today. I rode to the grocery last night and felt pretty good. I was going to ride this morning. I had everything ready, but I decided I wanted a little more sleep.

If not tomorrow, then I am going to start full force next week. I think we may be selling my car tomorrow anyway.

Tuesday, December 15

A New Start

So we may have finally sold my car. And for the first time in 10 years we will be a one car family. Of course we have FIVE bikes.

We're hedonistic that way.

I am not saying I'll be riding my bike to work every day from now on, in fact, I am getting over some sinus funk and don't think I'll ride this week at all unless I improve drastically.

We'll see...

Wednesday, December 9

Involuntary Hiatus

Thanksgiving break...flew in some planes.

Afterward we've had snow, snow, snow. People are biking. I could be biking. But I'm not.

I think after the Christmas Season I am going to get on the bike one way or the other. I CAN do it.

Saturday, November 21

Alternate Versions of Transportation

I just saw a piece on TV about the Wuppertal, Germany Schwebebahn, a suspended monorail that is over 100 years old.

It seems like a good model for the US. The trail can be suspended directly over existing roads and stay within the existing right-of-way.

And besides being a good idea, it is a visually impressive solution to the car as well.

The US needs more transportation options and something like this would add a lot of character to a city.

Wednesday, November 18

Slacker

As I was driving in this morning...

...I saw a 12-ish year old kid riding his bike to school in shorts. All of his exposed skin was rosy red.

I should have been riding, the roads are dry and clear. I saw street sweepers the day after the big snow. They keep the roads in good shape around here for sure.

I'm such a slacker...

Tuesday, November 10

Only in Colorado

This morning the temperature was about 30-35 on my ride in. I pulled up to a stop light next to another cyclist at Alameda and C-470.

The other cyclist said: "Some chilly days are comin'."

Now, for the record, I don't think 30-35 is necessarily chilly, but most people I know do. I had to chuckle.

Friday, November 6

Truly Carless

Ok, I think I am going to make a goal. I am going to go carless until the end of the year.

By carless I mean that I will not do anything that necessitates our family to use a second car. With a two year old and a six year old it would be hard to go COMPLETELY carless unless we condensed our lives considerably.

And the reality is that most of my trips, other than my commute involve other members of the family. I rarely go anywhere by myself theses days. There is the occasional quick trip to the store, but otherwise I mostly ride my bike or travel with Mandy and the kids.

So I guess we're doing pretty good already. I just think I can do a little better.

Transportation Thoughts

I speculate that the reason I am fascinated by transportation and transportation planning is because I have experienced different transportation environments in my life, actually extremes, and have experienced the major problems associated with the built transportation environment.

I grew up in rural Eastern Kentucky between stints in rural Southwestern Ohio, Nashville, TN and Dayton, OH.

The rural areas were characterized by two lane roads, few amenities and no options for public transit. There was no such thing as rush hour in those areas.

The urban areas were typical cities, piled with amenities within walking distance, criss-crossed with mass transit, pedestrian and cycling options and buried under gridlock during rush hours.

My philosophies on living, working and playing have evolved over the years and I think I finally have a pretty good idea of what the perfect locale would be for me. Its funny, I can see either extreme being fantastic if all three elements can come together. If I can live and work in close proximity near the fringe of an urban area I think I can satisfactorily balance living, working and playing.

Where we live now approaches transportation nirvana for me. I am still a bit disappointed with my commuting options, but they are tenfold better than the options I had living in the rural areas of Kentucky and Ohio.

If we lived on the other side of Green Mountain, anywhere between Green Mountain and South Table Mountain, my commute would be a no brainer. I could ride my bike to work in less than 20 minutes and maybe even walk depending on where we were located.

So I see how things are much improved here. I still see where small improvements could be made. I wish there were more dedicated bike paths to get one around the Denver Metro area, but still, there are hundreds of miles of paths. The holes are frustrating...

I enjoy having been able to visualize a place where I could meet my goals of being able to use alternate methods of transportation to get by on a daily basis. I think I always struggled with that and its no longer a struggle.

LATER

This is a good article: http://www.planning.org/planning/2009/nov/trafficcalming.htm

You'll have to sign in to see it.

Also, check out this article from Outside's Oct. 2009 issue.

One thing that always seems to get left out of the "You can bicycle commute" articles and lists is:

Find co-workers who already commute and glean what you can from them.


I think this is phenomenal advice (especially considering the source, ME!) because those that already ride in your community and to your place of work will best know the most pertinent issues you'll face in trying to get going with a new bicycle commute.

Best example I can think of is that when I started riding in Colorado I was unfamiliar with goat heads. We just didn't have them in the East. A co-worker showed me what they were, what I needed to do to properly fix the affected tire and how to avoid getting them in the first place.

Thanks to having him as a resource I was able to go from getting upwards of 7 goatheads in one ride to none in almost a year.

Co-workers will know the best places to clean up, store bike and gear, best routes to and from work, tie-ins with public transportation and any other location specific issues. I think that should become a standard list item in those sorts of articles and blog blurbs.

EVEN LATER

Some stats since I have started back riding to work:

In the past 19 work days I have ridden 14. Four of those I opted not to ride due to snow or ice and today I didn't feel well when I left for work so I drove.

I hope I can start using the bike or my own two feet to get to the store when I need to go, to Cub Scouts and other places. We're actually doing really well with one car right now. Of course the winter hasn't settled fully upon us.

Thursday, November 5

Transportation Quote

We feel invincible in our machines.

But then we’re rendered powerless by traffic.

It’s the intersection of those emotions that causes friction.

--Area Man, Freakonomic blog comments

Wednesday, November 4

Bikes



Since the snow last week I have been riding my Cannonball but I have been seriously lagging getting to and from work. Yesterday it took me a full 55 minutes to get to work.

So last night when I got home I decided I would ride my Giant today. Wow, its like night and day.

To put them into motor vehicle terms...riding the Cannondale is like driving a 1972 Chevy Suburban loaded down with Boy Scouts. It'll climb the hills, it'll get you where you're going. But it won't do it fast.

Riding the Giant is like...well, I don't know, because I've never driven an I-talian sports car, but that's how I imagine it must feel. I can FLY on the Giant. Of course I am still slow compared to other cyclists out on the road, but I do a much better job of keeping up on the Giant and I'm definitely not the slowest thing on the road like when I ride the Cannonball.

If I could race myself, I am sure the me on the Giant would win...

Monday, November 2

Winter Commuting



I know it is technically still autumn but today had the feel. The leaves are mostly gone and there is crud on the road. While the sun lit a clear blue dawn sky, the air was still cold and quite damp for the area.

The time change came at a great time though. I am now on early shift so I have to be ready to work at 7:30. I went out just after 6am this morning and the sky was already light. But I know as this month wears on I will lose my morning light and be riding in in the dark.

Bummer was that my headlight went dead long before I got to work. I hope it was just because the kids have been playing with it and leaving it on for hours on end and not because it sucks batteries dry in less than an hour...

Friday, October 30

Snow Days

I haven't ridden since Tuesday. The weather has been...uncooperative for certain.

Should be back in the saddle by next Monday, but the time will change this weekend and I will be on early shift so my bicycle commuting will be fraught with dark rides. I'll be fine, I have lights.

I almost skied to work one day this week. My goal is to do that at least once before winter passes.

Wednesday, October 28

No Hooky and No Ride

Grrr! I came in to work today despite the ice and snow and the fact that Boone had a snow day from school. And I decided it would be best if I didn't ride in, though in retrospect it might not have been too bad, it would have just taken a ridiculously long time.

Maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 27

Longs Peak

No, I am not going to attempt to ride my bike to the summit of Longs. In fact, I don't think its possible.

As I was riding in to work this morning I caught a peek of Longs Peak between Blue Mountain and Crescent Mountain as I was coming over I-70 on Rooney Road. It shone white in the morning sun, a beacon of winter on an autumn morning.

I was happy to know that I can see Longs Peak on my morning commute, via bike. I'll look for it in the future as I prepare for the screaming descent from the watershed boundary between Lakewood and Golden.

A couple of years ago I couldn't imagine I'd ever write in my blog that I'd see a Colorado 14er on my regular morning commute.

Monday, October 26

Super Bark!




I have a superpower I was unaware of.

This morning I carried my bike out and set it down on a sheet of ice outside our apartment. I rolled it to dry pavement and then threw a leg over and took off. I speculated that the drivers upon the roads would not be any more careful than on any other day, so I resolved that I would be as careful as I possibly could.

Once out on the road (sidewalk from our apartment to the top of the hill on Jewell) I realized that most people had not cleared their windows very well and would therefore not have good range of vision from their roving four wheel stop phone booths.

Atop Jewell Hill I hopped from the sidewalk out into the roadway, as I could maintain a relatively high speed and not be such a hindrance to traffic. There is a little gas station on the right at the top of the hill and as I approach a car eased out to the road. I sort of made eye contact with the driver through her ice encrusted side window, and she stopped as I approached the front of her car.

I was passing in front of her bumper, about 2' away and she started to pull forward.

HEY!!! I yelled at her car. It stopped dead, a foot away from me.

Super bark...it works. Try it sometime.





Thursday, October 22

Surprise!

My lovely wife bought me a carrier rack for the back of my bike(s), a second headlight and a new wicking shirt yesterday.

Thanks babe!

So I put the rack on the back of my road bike so now I can use the trunk bag with it, mostly eliminating the need for a backpack on my commutes. The second headlight goes on the mountain bike. I have had to tape the first headlight's mount to the handlebars of my road bike because they taper and the mount will never affix correctly. So that was nice.

On my very snowy and dim ride home last night I rubber-banded my first headlight directly to the handlebar of the MTB. Amazingly it made it all the way home!

Alas, I drove her car to work today. After all the snow/rain yesterday and last night the temperatures dropped a few degrees below freezing and this morning there was a nice coating of ice on the exposed surfaces. I just didn't want to take a chance...

But back on the bike again tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 21

Things I Know I Need...

...after this morning's ride:

Front fender for the Cannonball

Waterproof shoes (not necessarily bike shoes)

Helmet rain cover

Non-tinted glasses for wet riding conditions (I have some somewhere, but most likely they are in Kentucky still)

Otherwise I think I am well equipped for riding in inclement weather. I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with all the wet stuff in my cube...



AND THIS

Getting It Right

I thought about how green I was going to be this morning, but I ended up being blue but not in a sad way.

And here are some of the things I heard as I dripped slush into the carpet:

"You're crazy!"

You're rude! I thought.

"You didn't… I thought you were smart!"

Pretty smart actually, I warm and dry under my slushy shell.

And finally:

Head shake but then, "Nice work!"

Cool! Someone else understands!







LATER:

I think today was the worst possible conditions for riding. I've ridden in colder, but drier, temperatures and was fine. I've ridden in wet, but warmer, conditions and was fine.

Today the temps were just above freezing and a heavy, slushy snow was falling. So most of my ride was in the slushy shoulders. I stayed completely dry except for my feet which were completely soaked and frozen by the time I got to work. All I needed were some waterproof shoes and my gaiters and my feet would have stayed warm and dry.

And my face got a little cold, but nothing I couldn't remedy easily, and it wasn't uncomfortable. Being the little heat engine that I am, having one part of my body be cold as I ride in is nice.

Thursday, October 15

Overdressed

Based on the past two days I dressed in my aerodynamic tights and long sleeve wicker with jacket this morning.

I threw on some sweats to walk Boone over to the bus stop. Today was his first day ever riding the bus to school. He was pretty excited. And it'll be good for us, Mandy won't have to drive him to and from school.

I realized I had far too many clothes on so when I went back in I changed into shorts and took the sleeves off my jacket. Should have put on a t-shirt as well.

It was a fantastic ride in except for a minimally annoying headwind.

Not only are we dropping down to one car, but we're figuring out more ways to be less dependent on the single occupancy vehicle.

We're gonna turn green...



LATER

From bicycling.com

I have experienced the following:

1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 40, 42, 44, 48, 50, 52, 53, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 64, 66, 70, 75, 81, 84, 85, 87, 90, 91, 93, 96, 97, 106, 108, 109

Wednesday, October 14

Autumn Ride

My ride home this evening was very nice. The sun was sinking low, the sky was crisp blue, the air was cool. I very much enjoyed the fact that I was on my bike.

Being in the car would not have allowed me to enjoy the commute quite so directly.

I'm glad I've started riding to work again.

Tuesday, October 13

Fair Weather Commuters

Where were you?! It was a fantastic day to ride in to work. The skies were hanging low with clouds but there was no rain or wind. The air was a mild 36° and with a windbreaker and a good heart rate it was the most comfortable ride I've had in awhile.

Most days I see you, when the sun blazes and the clear blue sky focuses all solar radiation onto your exposed skin. But why do you climb into the SUV or Suburbaru when the temperature drops a few degrees?

I must admit, my laziness has kept me behind the wheel, comfortably seated with my music playing while I played SOV chess for months past my "break" from cycling after the Triple Bypass (Bike Tour, NOT medical procedure). But now I'm back…my pet polluter is listed on craigslist and I have a prospective buyer. Life is good. I think we may have it all worked out so our family can drop from two cars to one.

I think I might talk to Facilities here at work and see if I can get a permanent locker in the locker room as a trade off for permanently giving up a parking space in the lot. Maybe they'll help me out with a place to store my bike inside other than in my cube…

Wednesday, October 7

Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad REDO

I have put my car on craigslist. $700 for a 1993 Suburbaru Legacy that runs. Oh, it has 250,000 miles on it, but it RUNS.

I've gotten 2 or 3 offers for $500 cash, but I'm pretty adamant on the 700. I need to buy fenders for my bike. Also, some waterproof shoes to get me through winter would be nice.

We've kind of figured it out. Worst case Mandy can take me to work on really bad days and I can either ride my bike or the bus home or she can pick me up in the evening.

On another note...I read an article in a recent Bicycling magazine that lists 109 rites of passage for cyclists. I checked off quite a few. More to come on that in the near future...

Tuesday, October 6

Back in the Saddle

I'm trying to reorient my mindset as the seasons are changing. I had opted not to ride my bike much in July and the first part of August because I spent so much time riding in preparation for the TBP in the months prior. But after my "month off" I have just not been interested in riding much. I tried getting back on the bicycle commuter horse, but that fell through due to a week of funky appointments.

I think a big part of my lack of motivation is our new locale. Lakewood just doesn't lend itself to riding like Denver to Golden did. The rides around our new place just don't appeal to me like the rides around Denver did. I liked riding in the city. I loved that my morning commute took me down Cherry Creek, past downtown Denver and Invesco and then up through Sloan's Lake. I loved my ride.

Now I'm not so motivated. I need to do something to kick start myself back into riding. My car will not pass emissions and I need to start looking for a feasible solution to that problem. Of course if Mandy were to get a job then we could afford to buy a replacement car for mine, but the reality is that I have to plan as if she won't find a job. Right now things aren't looking good and it might actually be better if she is free to volunteer at Boone's school and stay home with Lily. It might be better…

I want to be in better shape. Riding consistently would allow me to get in better shape. That should be motivation enough…but now that I am completely out of the habit and the weather has turned cold I find it even harder to get up the gumption to ride. Of course I fancy myself this hardman extraordinaire…but I don't follow through. I need to suck it up and be the person I want to be. I am so sick of not being in the shape I want to be in and I am so sick of being unmotivated all the time. Grrrr!!!

I think I'm going to go ahead and try to sell my car. If I can get a few hundred dollars out of it I can invest that in better clothing and gear for riding every day. I think I can plan out and manage anything I need to without the car, save going up into the mountains for fun stuff. So those days will be fewer and farther between…such is life. At least for now anyway. I know things will get better.

And for now I just need to get my act together and make a change.

Friday, September 4

Busted

Arg! I drove today. I'm just not feeling good at all. Its allergies or something and I feel super-blah.

I think that's going to be the crux of going car-less. When I don;t feel good, when its raining cats and dogs, when there is six inches of snow on the ground...I'm not going to want to ride. And once the car is gone I'll have no choice.

But then again, maybe with the choice taken away it'll just be easier. Problem is that being on early shift right now, I'm late if I don't just get up and go. So this morning I lagged just a few minutes and then had to give up on riding.

And my ride isn't flat enough that I can just go no matter what. There are enough rolling hills that if I were really sick or something it would be a major ordeal to get to work.

And its still early enough in the year that its daylight when I ride. Its going to be so much harder when its dark when I leave.

I think I need to explore the public transportation options.

Monday, August 31

Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

August has ended...at least it will have in a few hours.

My car will not pass emissions. It would be cost prohibitive to even try to make it pass...a futile effort, dumping hundreds of dollars into a car with a quarter million miles on it to fulfill a purpose that will not make the car run better, nor extend its utility.

So in January my KY tags will expire and I don't want to go through the charade again. I just want to be rid of the burden of dealing with the car.

Mandy and I talked about it a few weeks ago and I decided I'd give going carless a go in September. If I can get through September without needing my car then I should be able to parlay that into a longer stint as a carless wonderboy. I think I can do it.

I am speculating that it might be easier, since the riding will not be the end, but the means. No Triple Bypass...no century ride...just getting where I need to go.

My Cannonball is aired up, my clothes for the week are hanging in my cube at work and I am ready to go...

We'll save money on gas, maintenance and insurance. I'll be healthier, more self sufficient and hopefully happier with my choice.

One thing I need to do it figure out a low stress route to work. Riding Jewell out to Alameda is not always fun, though it is a better route than most.

Monday, August 24

Carless Wonder-Boy

My goal for September is to go carless for the entire month if at all possible. The one exception is my NoRD (No Responsibilities Day). I want to get back up into the mountains, so I pan on driving that day, but otherwise I want to pedal everywhere!

Thursday, August 20

Tuesday, August 18

Back to the Ride

August I deemed Opportunity Month. I am on late shift and I have a little time before work to do things, so I am (trying) taking advantage of that to do some lesser peaks and mini-before work adventures.

But September...I plan on going back to commuting by two wheels. I have been riding to work a little, sort of when it makes things more convenient, like last Friday I rode so Mandy could just pick me up at 4pm on our way camping for the weekend.

I have no big cycling plans lined up, other than a MTB foray out to the ghost town of Crossons from Pine Valley OS. And it's only a 10 mile round trip ride.

I did get to see parts of the Leadville 100 and though I had not considered it in the past, I can see myself aspiring to do it in the future.

I missed seeing Lance Armstrong by about 15-20 minutes. If I had the presence of mind to have speculated that he wold have been in the race, especially considering that he came in SECOND last year, I would have waited around when the officials told us the leaders would be coming through soon.

Oh well...

Monday, July 13

Duchamp Tattoo

So in honor of my TBP success I plan on getting a little artwork done and I have settled on Duchamp's To Have the Apprentice in the Sun.

And as far as long rides go...I am finally going on hiatus, like I had claimed months ago just before registering for the Triple Bypass.

Sunday, July 12

Trip Report - Triple Bypass Bicycle Tour 2009

START LINE CHAOS

Mandy wove through Bergen Park in the Suburbaru , dodging cyclists on and off their bikes, support vehicles and spectators. For the first time in over a week, my stomach had settled and I wasn’t worrying about this day.

Finally we pulled over along the shoulder behind an SUV where a middle aged (more middle aged than me at least) guy was unloading his bike. A truck pulled in behind us to deposit its cyclists as well.
Mandy looked at me, obviously not just suffering from lack of sleep, though neither of us had gotten much the night before and said: “I’m just gonna let you out. I don’t feel good at all,” The plan had been to get the starting line photo, but it looked like the start area was mostly chaos anyway, so I leaned over, kissed her cheek and we both got out of the car.

I was going as light as possible since Mandy was planning on running SAG for me. I worried that she wouldn’t feel good enough to make the drive all the way to Avon. But she assured me she’d be fine. So I leaned in the car and kissed both kids and told them I couldn’t wait to see them in Idaho Springs. Mandy kissed me once more and I headed off.

0:00 (6am) - Bergen Park

I cruised easily down the road, other cyclists falling in around me. At the first traffic light I came up behind about 15-20 other bikes waiting for the green. When it changed it sounded like a 21 gun salute or a pack of semi-dud firecrackers going off as 40 bike shoes clicked into 4o pedals simultaneously.
Everybody seemed to scatter around the roundabout near the RTD lot in Bergen Park. But as I approached the eastern terminus of Squaw Pass Road I saw that there was one point of convergence. All the bikes bottlenecked at the intersection and then we were all headed west, toward Avon, 120 miles away.

THIS IS ME CONSERVING ENERGY

As the mass of jerseys slowly snaked up Squaw Pass Road I was passed by many and only passed a few myself, but I crawled along at a steady 7-9 mph. I didn’t push it, I knew there were many, many miles ahead.

1:30 - Squaw Pass

The views open up and you can start to see big mountains to the northwest. Squaw Mountain looms in front of you on the road. I felt good. I was going much faster than on my Squaw Mountain summit ride a few weeks prior. And just before Squaw Pass I had started to pass more people than were passing me.

Just before Juniper Pass on the first downhill section a guy pedaled up next to me.

Me: Is this the end?

Guy [chuckling]: Where are you here from?

Me: Lakewood. You?

Guy: Casper, Wyoming, but I used to live in Denver.

About that time another cyclist screamed past us in the left lane.

Casper Guy: Showoff!

Me: He can’t be Lance, because Lance is in France.

Casper Guy: Ha!

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE

2:00 - Juniper Pass aid station

Coasted through the aid station crowd and stopped on the far side to let text Mandy and let her know I was on my way down toward Idaho Springs. Then I hopped back on the bike and let gravity take it away. I knocked it up into higher gear and started pedaling hard. It was level for a short distance, and then the angle increased and I really started passing people for the first time.

I was rocketing past people who were pedaling hard. It was an awesome descent. I love to ride my bike down long hills. It’s an amazing feeling. I knew the road, but had never ridden it on a bike.

I was finally feeling 100% positive about the ride. After Juniper Pass I knew I was going to finish, even though Loveland Pass loomed in the shadows of my mind.

2:30, 40 miles – Idaho Springs

I was anxious to get into Idaho Springs because I knew I would see Mandy and the kids there. There were a lot of people with signs for other riders and traffic was a gnarled mess so I left the course for the public parking lot behind Beau Jo’s and called Mandy.

“Where are you guys?”

[Pause] “Still at home. I fell asleep.”

I understood. Mandy’s not been feeling good and neither of us got much sleep the night before. She went home to get ready for a day of riding along and meeting me along the way and dragging the kids with her. It would have been expecting a lot for her to have been there. It was only 8:30am after all.

“No big deal. I’ll ride on to Georgetown and we can meet there. It should give you plenty of time and I’m feeling good and don’t need anything right now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep. See you in Georgetown.”

So I got back on route and continued through Idaho Springs to Stanley Road. I had ridden Stanley Road on my Berthoud Pass ride a few weeks before. It’s a nice ride along Clear Creek and there were lots of other riders around so it was a fairly easy section, except for the part just below Georgetown where they were doing construction and the road was dirt.

I did stop at the aid station near the Empire exit and filled my water bottles and grabbed a couple of muffins.

LUNCH

4:00 (10am) – Georgetown

I rolled into town and parked at the Valero just off the interstate to wait for my SAG wagon. I was there about 10 minutes before Mandy and the kids showed up. We moved over to the visitor center and found a shady picnic table and I took a nice long break and visited with them.

I tried not to think about the section above Georgetown to Loveland Pass. Loveland is the highest point of the ride and even I-70 between Georgetown and Loveland is steep.

I gave Mandy directions to the cool playground in Georgetown and bade them all goodbye and said I’d see them in Frisco. I rode around the Visitor Center and Mandy got a picture as I rode past on the road. Just past the visitor center three women stood on the side of the road, cheering all the riders on holding a sign that read “Nice Legs!” They were ringing cowbells as they cheered. Oddly, a lot of people were ringing cowbells along the way. I guess they needed more cowbell.

On the switchbacks up the bike path above Georgetown people had written messages to riders in sidewalk chalk. It made me think back to a passage in It’s Not About the Bike when Lance Armstrong wrote about seeing his name in faded paint from a previous race on a climb in North Carolina when he was training.

And then I was headed up…toward Loveland Pass and the deciding point.

BEATING MY DEMONS

5:05 – Exit 218

After Georgetown the route goes along a really nice, but steep bike path to Silver Plume and then goes back onto the two lane road for a few miles before going onto the shoulder of I-70. I stopped on the hour (5:00 on my bike computer) to suck down a Clif Shot and drink some sports drink. I learned from
my failed Mount Evans attempt that I needed a better fuel system.

Team Evergreen’s FAQ for the TBP suggested that you take one energy gel packets (Power Gel, Clif Shots or the like) every 45 minutes. So I decided, without having tried that before to do that for the ride. I didn’t take water at all, only sports drinks.

So every hour I stopped, got off the bike and took a gel packet, drank a lot of fluid and stretched, got off my tingly feet and then got back on the bike.

After my scheduled fuel stop I got back on the bike and five minutes later as I approached exit 218 I saw Mandy, Boone and Lily waiting by the road. I slowed to stop and hugged Lily as she ran up to me.

So I answered natures call at the trailhead parking lot restroom near the exit while Mandy filled up my water bottles and with renewed spirits I got back on and headed toward Loveland Pass. I was glad I got to see them and it definitely helped me stave off the looming dread I felt.

6:00 – Loveland Aid Station

As I exited the interstate there were signs for the next aid station at the base of the climb up the pass. I wasn’t going to stop but I decided to anyway.

Special Olympics of Colorado was giving out watermelon and I ended up getting four pieces. Another restroom stop and I then I walked my bike back over to the pavement.

It looked steep. It looked mean. But I felt good. I felt strong.

Leg over the bike frame. Shoe into pedal…up.

It was a crawl and I did it with a lot of other cyclists. Cars passed respectfully, as well as one semi going over the pass, restricted from going through the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 because of the volatile contents of its load no doubt.

People were pulling off all along the pass. Cyclists were coasting down, obviously haven given up before reaching the top, or maybe at the top, not wanting to go on. I knew if I reached the top of
Loveland Pass that nothing would keep me from finishing.

I followed one guy for about half the climb before he staggered to a stop on the shoulder. I kept going.
And after the big main swithback on Sniktau’s northwest flank I could see the rest of the climb up to the pass itself and it didn’t look bad at all. Grrr!!!

6:40, 60+ miles – Loveland Pass Summit

The summit of the pass was somewhat anticlimactic. I had been there before, four times in fact: when I summitted Mount Sniktau last year, when I attempted to go back to Sniktau a second time in a storm, when I took Tom and the kids up there in the fall and when Mandy and I drove back over Loveland from Keystone after our first Nordic skiing trip. It was that last time, after I had registered for the Triple that I really looked at the road and considered what it would be like to ride my bike up it. That was when the demon had been conceived in my mind.

It died quietly as I texted Mandy: “Over Loveland”

DARK SKIES

The skies had grown dark and ominous as I climbed Loveland. And as I screamed down the other side I knew it was going to be bad weather ahead.

As I cruised through Keystone I resolved that I wouldn’t let rain stop me. I’d go on no matter what.
It was sprinkling, but the roads were still dry.

I started up Swan Mountain with a group I had seen on and off throughout the ride. The views over the lake were amazing, mountains as a backdrop all along. One guy joked about the rain, he sort of reminded me of the main character in American Flyers, and I responded: “I hope the rain holds off til Frisco. All my rain gear is there.”

We pedaled on up the slow grade for a few minutes and then I stated: “Has anyone seen my lowest gear? I keep trying to find it but it seems to be gone. I think it fell off,” I was rewarded with a few chuckles.

“You might have lost it on Loveland Pass,” someone added. Another round of laughs.
At the top I bade them all goodbye and jumped on my pedals, screaming down Swan Mountain on the west side into Frisco. And then near disaster struck…

Banking around a tight curve I found myself bearing down on a deep pothole. I bunny hoped (at 35+ mph) to avoid it, but the bike came down hard, at an angle and my front tire barked out a loud objection. Fortunately I continued without immediate damage, but I’d soon find out my tube was leaking air.

At the bottom of Swan Mountain, just before the next aid station the roads were very wet with recent rains that we had somehow avoided. To that point the precipitation had only been sprinkles…refreshing actually.

7:30 75-ish miles, (2:45pm) – Frisco

LAND OF CONFUSION

I rolled into the aid station, dialing Mandy on my cell.

“Where are you?”

“Near the interstate at a Conoco and Wendy’s. We’re near the dam.”

“I think I’m at the upper end of the lake. Do you see any cyclist?”

“We’ve seen one.”

What to do? I had no idea where they were. None of us had ever been to Frisco.

“Ok, I’ll head on toward town and see if I can find you.”

I followed the mass of riders on to the bike path which would through a forest and eventually came out behind some condos. But ahead it appears as if the route was heading into a canyon, a canyon where I knew I-70 must head on toward Vail Pass. I had seemingly missed town.

And then I saw a sign indicating “Main Street.” I made the snap decision to leave the route and try to find my SAG crew.

I was pedaling through a neighborhood, seemingly nowhere near downtown. My front tire was getting lower with every turn. I had to find Mandy before I had a complete flat. I was beginning to worry that I might be thwarted, not from physical ailments, but because of poor preparation on my part in figuring out where we needed to meet. Idiot! I thought.

3:00pm

I stopped at an intersection and called Mandy. Again her description of where she was made no sense to me. So I continued on until I found Main Street.

3:06pm

I stopped on a main corner and tried to figure out where she was, still not seeing the lake, the interstate or anything that looked like what she was describing. And then a local on a mountain bike rolled to stop next to me, preparing to cross the street.

I relayed the description to him and he said: “Yeah! Its right down there,” and pointed north.

“Be there is a few minutes,” I told Mandy and hung up the phone.

“You riding the Triple Bypass?” He asked. I guess the jersey gave it away?

“Yeah,” I replied.

“I passed some of your fellows coming down the bike path.”

So I followed him across the street and then up the bike path along Summit Avenue (or something like that). When he went to turn he pointed on ahead and said, “Keep going straight!”

“Thanks!” I called to him and pedaled on. A minute or so later I saw Mandy in a parking lot and coasted to a stop. My front tire was almost completely flat. As I dismounted from the bike I felt pain for the first time. My thighs were sore and tight.

BACK ON TRACK

I changed the tube in my tire, stretched a little, drank some water, ran Boone into the restroom at Conoco and then Mandy drove me back to the spot I left the route. Just as we were loading up at the Conoco the rain began and thunder rolled. I quickly donned my windbreaker and settled into the car.
Mandy hinted that I could stop then due to the rain.

“I made it over Loveland. I’m going to finish.”

“Ok,” she responded with a grin.

We stopped by the path in a downpour. I commented that no one was coming along the path. I wondered if I would now be bringing up the rear. And then Mandy pointed up the trail to a lone cyclist coming down.

I kissed her, and said I’d see her in Avon. I got out and settled the bike on the pavement. She rolled down the window and asked, “Do you need anything?”

“I’m good. See you soon.”

I stretched my quads a bit before throwing a leg over the bike and shoving off behind the lone cyclist.

8:00 (4:00pm) – Leaving Frisco

ON TO VAIL PASS

Riding in the rain is miserable. But the scenery almost made up for it. Actually, the worst of the rain stopped almost as soon as I was out of sight of the road. The bike path climbed up along a raging whitewater stream, jammed up against towering rock walls above. The section up to Copper Mountain ski area was beautiful and somewhat relaxing.

Everyone had commented that Vail Pass was the easiest of the three. But it comes at the end. So easy or not it could still be the deciding factor, and while I acknowledged that I maintained that since I had beaten Loveland Pass I was going to finish.

At Copper you leave the path for a little while, turn right up a valley that doesn’t look as menacing as the one you left and eventually get back on the bike path that winds up to Vail Pass between the lanes of I-70.

The Vail Pass bike path is amazing. It winds through an alpine meadow with a gurgling stream, separate from the interstate which is high above on both sides. The climb is fairly gentle and with the overcast gray skies there was an ambiance that I could truly appreciate.

My odometer approached 90 miles as I climbed up from Copper Mountain. I was eagerly anticipating that magical 100 mile mark…my first century.

Sprinkles started up higher, with thunder menacing in the near distance. I paused under a tree at the 9:00 mark to choke down another Clif Shot, drink more Gatorade and stretch. A few people labored past as I rested. One was walking and she looked like she was in pain.

I got back on my bike feeling good. Vail Pass and the last aid station was a few minutes further. I cruised on through, still doing good on food an fluid. I had 30 miles to Avon and 20 or so of that was going to be downhill.

Bypassing the aid station I felt good. I paused at the apex to text: “Over Vail Pass C U Soon”

TRIPLE BYPASS BICYCLE FLUME

Gravity pulled. I pushed.

Down the bike path toward Vail I flew. I FLEW. I passed and I passed and I rocketed down, down, down. The rain had started in earnest immediately below the top of the past. My windbreaker flapped angrily in the wind.

I slowed as the path curved into thick trees and thankfully so. The ribbon of pavement wound through some tight, blind curves before exiting back along I-70.

Looking down I saw 99.25 on my odometer. A silly grin spread across my face and began collecting raindrops.

I kept glancing down. Even though I had surpassed my previous distance record of 83 miles a while back I wanted to know when I hit 100. And when I hit 100 I almost hit a hillside.

I had been paying more attention to my odo and not enough to my speed or the curves in the path.
Once I had regained my composure I let out a howl of delight. It was drowned out by the wind, rain and traffic on nearby I-70, but it felt good to hit that milestone.

The rain stayed with us from Vail Pass beyond Vail proper. It seemed like I would never reach Avon, but thankfully it was ALL downhill from the top of Vail Pass.

Unfortunately my hands started tingling around Vail and it made riding hard. I wasn’t sure if it was a compressed ulnar nerve (typical cycling malady) or windchill or a combination of both. But as I approached an intersection in Vail I repositioned my hands to be able to grip my brakes and it felt like an electric shock in both hands and up my forearms.

So I had to try to rest my hands differently on my handlebars. It would have been easy on flat ground in dry conditions, but in a full on downpour heading downhill I needed to stay close to my brakes. It was difficult to say the least.

And then after Vail and a few miles on down the bike path I saw signs for Avon. Avon was supposed to be this little town, but the road went on and on and on. And on.

Finally I knew I was getting close. I approached an intersection and a police officer directed me to the left and as soon as I rounded the corner I saw Boone, Lily and Mandy waiting for me. I had made it!

10:50 (6:00pm), 120 miles – Avon

OVER AND DONE WITH

Now I can relax. A great weight has been lifted. I don’t feel the pressure or urgency to go out and ride longer and further, to climb hills and passes, to ride to work every day, to fret over the days I don’t ride or am unmotivated. I can go back to eating whatever whenever (yay cheeseburgers!) and my family can have me back and have normal weekends.

I don’t think I’ll do the Triple next year. I may do another shorter ride. Probably won’t do it the year after. Maybe in a few years. Maybe five…

Maybe when Mandy decides she wants to or is ready to join me doing it…maybe when the kids are older, though I’m pretty sure Boone will opt out.

It was an amazing experience, and in preparing for it I had a whole host of other amazing experiences. It was a great learning experience and I am so glad I decided to do this and that my family supported me in it. I couldn’t have done it without their patience and support.

To the best SAG crew out there: thanks, I owe you and I love you!

Friday, July 10

Ready...

I have new tires on my bike. The brakes are adjusted, derailleurs equally so.

I'm eating a loaf of banana bread and my head is somewhat calm.

I think I'm ready for tomorrow. Well, I still need to get everything together to take with me and to send with Mandy, but I feel like I could get on the bike right now and take off.

Only slightly nervous, but more anxious I guess.

Wednesday, July 8

Morning Commute

Had a good ride this morning. 9.5 miles seems pathetic compared to 120 though.

I really think after the Triple I'm going to limit my riding to commuting and family rides for a good long while. I'm almost sick of long rides at this point and I am so tired of feeling the pressure to ride longer and higher.

Of course if I fail at the Triple I think my mind is going to kick back in to Mount Evans mode. But I don't think I'm going to fail at the Triple. And even if were to do so I think Mount Evans might have to wait til September...

I love riding, but I think shorter (under 30 miles) rides would satisfy me for many months.

Tuesday, July 7

Confidence Builder

Mount Evans was supposed to be my big confidence builder for the Triple Bypass...and then I blew it. I turned back 10 miles from the summit. I keep wondering if I had pushed on would it have gotten easier once my food kicked in, did I need a longer rest, more water...

All Mount Evans truly did for me was show me my diet is not adequate for long distance, high intensity rides.

That's a good lesson, but there isn't enough time now to learn what I did wrong and find the right solution. I put off the big stuff too long.

So I am going to try my best to fuel up for Saturday and try to put the unridden ten miles out of my mind.

Friday, July 3

The 10 Miles I Did Not Ride

So let me tell you about the ten miles I didn't ride today. Actually it was something like 10.75, but who's counting.

Starting point: 11,700'
Ending point: 11,200'
Total gain: 2,500'
Max grade: 6%

The ten miles I didn't ride today hardly compare with Berthoud or Guanella or Genesee Mountain...rides I have done easily in the last few weeks.

Now let me tell you about the 83 miles I did ride.

I rolled out of the apartment at 5:45am this morning and headed west, up Bear Creek Canyon, the Kerr Gulch. I got to the upper end of Kerr Gulch around 8am.

I rode the Evergreen parkway shoulder to Squaw Pass Road and then headed up. I reached Squaw Pass proper at 9am and was getting low on fluids. I started out with about 120 oz. I was hoping there would be water at Echo Lake (ironic huh?) and I pushed on over Juniper Pass, very cognizant that in a week and one day I'd be riding over Juniper Pass with not so many miles dragging behind me.

I dropped fast down to Echo Lake and went into the lodge/gift shop...HALLELUJAH! Restrooms with a sink and icy cold water!

I felt obliged to buy something so I picked up two packets of fruity snacks and a "Mount Evans" sticker. They had a cool magnet with a vintage cyclist riding up MER.

I stretched, ate, drank and rested. Finally I was ready to head on up. I paid my $3 and started the real climb. I felt good for a mile or so, but then the miles began to hit me. By the time I got to the Goliath Mountain area I was starting to feel ragged. I got on up, just above treeline and was forced to stop on the side of the road. I sat down for a few minutes and then decided I needed to press on. I was a little over ten miles from the summit and about 41.5 miles from home.

I threw a weary leg over the bike and clipped into the pedal. But after two cranks I realized my body was rebelling. I had no energy left for upward movement. My legs felt transparent, hollow and weak. I found myself headed down, almost without conscious thought and pulled over a few yards below where I had stopped a few moments before. I was facing downhill and east.

I pounded a mental fist and told my body "NO! We're going to the top! It's only 10 miles! TEN MILES!"

I whipped the bike around and started cranking upward...for two revolutions and that was when I realized I was not going to the summit of Evans today.

So I turned my front wheel east and let gravity have me. Unfortunately my climbing for the day wasn't over. I still had to climb back up to Juniper Pass and beyond and I had to climb from Bergen Park up to the upper end of Kerr Gulch, not to mention I had to climb the last few miles from Morrison (the whole town smelled like grilled burgers!) home.

I'm tired. I'm beat. I'm sore and I'm slightly disappointed with myself.

But on the other hand, I did the biggest ride of my life. I've never ridden 80 miles. And I climbed over 6,000'. The ride was amazing, the views doubly so. There were lots of cyclists out and about and I am glad I made my push.

So this was one life goal that I still can't tick off my list, but that's ok. GIves me something to aspire to in the future.

Thursday, June 25

Land World Speed Record

I broke 50 mph on my bike coming down Mount Vernon Canyon this morning.

I looked down while coasting and saw I was doing about 47 mph. So I started pedaling for all I was worth. I glanced down a couple times at my speedo and I know I hit 50 and I think I may have even hit 51 or 52.

That was fun.

Wednesday, June 24

Bike to Work Day 2009

...is today!

I rode. I did a detour and got in 21-22 miles before work and the nice guys from Yeti Cycles tuned up my bike (just in time for the Triple Bypass). Got a shirt, some buttons and stickers and a couple bagels.

Funny thing is that Wednesday is not my normal commute day. Lately I've been trying to ride Tues-Fri, but I average riding Tuesdays and Thursdays. And since I've been doing longer rides before work I've been taking rest days through the week...

Yesterday I just did my normal commute though. And today I did the 21-ish miles.

I am going to try a longer ride tomorrow and maybe a moderate ride on Friday, depending on the visiting family schedule.

Mandy's mom and dad and Ty and Ali are on their way to visit us and will be in Colorado until late next week.

Monday, June 22

Westword

This is a funny bit from Westword, a local rag.

I'm definitely #1, with a little #3 thrown in (love the Wash Park reference!)

I also get a kick out of the Fixie Pixie...

And...I learned something new today. "That balance thing" is actually called a trackstand.

Saturday, June 20

Motives

So I have ulterior motives with riding the Triple Bypass. I knew that in preparing for it that I would necessarily have to do some amazing rides. I knew long before I headed west from Bergen Park early in the morning of July 11th that I'd have gotten some feathers for my cycling cap.

And I have...Deer Creek - Bear Creek Loop, Genesee Mountain from Denver, Guanella Pass, Squaw Mountain...and now Berthoud Pass from Idaho Springs.

6:24am I left the public parking lot behind Beau Jo's in downtown Idaho Springs. I wanted to ride all the way to the summit of Colorado Mines Peak, a 12er east of Berthoud. But I wasn't sure if I'd even make the pass. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night and my original plan had been to do the Mount Evans century, but due to possible inclement weather and a lack of confidence on my part left me looking for another ride for today.

And there was only one...Berthoud Pass with Colorado Mines Peak beyond.

I pedaled out of Idaho Springs and cruised along Clear Creek west. Whitewater serenade put a goofy grin on my face and kept my legs pumping.

7:24am I passed through the sleepy burg of Dumont. 8:00 put me in Empire. I felt like I was making phenomenal time compared to my Squaw Mountain ride this past week. I felt good and strong.

At 9:00 I was just east of Berthoud Falls and stopped for a short break at a FS picnic area. The pass was not much farther in miles, but I was gonna start having to pull down the elevation.

Beyond Berthoud Falls was the real meat of the climb. But after making the first switchback curve I found myself three gears up from the lowest pedaling free and clear. What was up with that?

A couple of times I had to gear down, but for the most part I kept a few gears up and maintained a steady clip. I could see Mines ahead of me and it looked so close. I could see the dirt road that switchbacked up the west slopes. I wanted it bad...but my water (all 100 oz.) was mostly gone and the ghost of an altitude headache was coming on.

And then, almost before I knew it I could see the pass ahead.

At 9:50am I rolled to a stop at the pass.

I looked around for water...nothing. Then I decided I'd make a go at Mines anyway. But a few hundred yards up the road I decided the snow and soft alpine soil were not conducive to upward progress.

And then I let gravity have me. It was a nice coast back to Idaho Springs with only a few slow sections where it was flat or slightly uphill. My legs were finally tired, but I managed a strong finish and after loading up the bike headed home.

23 miles up in 3.5 hours, 3,678' of climbing...5 hours total.

Confidence: high

Mount Evans will be next...

Thursday, June 18

Date With a Squaw

0.0 miles
7,791' starting elevation
5:30am

There were few cars at the RTD lot in Bergen Park as I started out this morning. I headed south a short bit to the eastern terminus of Squaw Pass Road. Upward...

7 miles
9,185'
6:30am

Top of Witter Gulch, I stopped for a snack and some water.

12.6 miles
10,640'
7:30am

I left the pavement for the dirt road up to the summit of Squaw Mountain. I started huffing and puffing, but didn't manage to blow anything down. I walked for about a quarter of a mile when the road got really steep and really rocky.

14.4 miles
11,486'
8:30am

Summit of Squaw Mountain.

28.8 miles
9:30am

Return to Bergen park.

Wednesday, June 17

Tuesday, June 16

Building Confidence

I had a small setback with my attempt on Squaw Mountain the other day. So I have decided to re-adjust my approach slightly.

This morning I went and rode Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. The ride was less than 10 miles, but all climbing. I felt phenomenal on the way up...never feeling as if the climb was taxing at all and I don't think I broke a sweat.

Thursday my plan is to attempt Squaw again, this time from Bergen Park, and not Lakewood (what was I thinking?) and then this coming Saturday I think I'm going to go for the Mount Evans century.

Morrison to the summit of Mount Evans and back.

I need confidence more than I need muscles right now.

Saturday, June 13

Most Ambitious Ride Yet

5:15am - I pedal west on Jewell.

I take a left on Yale and drop down to Bear Creek and then Morrison Rd, turning right and pointing my wheels toward Morrison and Bear Creek Canyon beyond. My ultimate goal was the summit of Squaw Mountain a little over 20 miles and 4,000' in elevation gain away.

As I wandered up Bear Creek Canyon my only company was the sun-tinged ridgetops high above, wreathed in misty clouds, and Bear Creek voicing its timeless angry concerns as it tumbled down the canyon to the plains where its ire would be extinguished.

I passed through Idledale an hour after starting out. That concerned me a bit.

I kept on going, up and west...

I passed through Kittredge, Evergreen and then up into Upper Bear Creek. Wow...can you say pretentious poshness? When everyone names their property you know you've traversed into the realm of luxury.

But it is a very beautiful stretch of road. I only had to stop and pee in one person's yard...

So I made better time up Upper Bear Creek from Evergreen until I got to Witter Gulch Road. I made the turn north onto Witter Gulch and the real climbing began. I crawled slowly, higher, higher, slower, slower...until my back had tightened up to the point where I just had to get off the bike. So I walked along pushing the bike for a bit because I didn't want to stop.

The road had turned to dirt and I walked along hoping I wasn't jamming pebbles into the clips on my bike shoes.

Back in the saddle and cranking away, I took the outside of every switchback (there were a number of them) and had a scare/startlement when dog lunged toward me from its territory (read: driveway) only to be stopped by its lead.

I climbed all the way up to Squaw Pass Road. I groaned up the last few hundred yards, breath coming in ragged gasps, legs screaming for relief...and I was back on the pavement.

I looked at the time...after 8:00...I had told Mandy I would be home by 10. I looked up Squaw Pass Road. I wasn't sure exactly how far it was, was pretty sure it was going to be at least five more miles and all climbing. And I knew even if I could get there in an hour there was no way I could make the entire 30+ mile descent in an hour.

So I decided I'd head partway up Squaw Pass Road and I turned west again. I went for a couple miles and stopped (ironically) less than a mile from Squaw Pass proper near the 9,600' contour.

I had been feeling ok, strong most of the way, especially down low. I'd been munching on rainbow Twizzlers the whole way and stopped to eat a Milky Way. But once I pointed my front wheel down my legs slowly started feeling transparent.

I blazed down Squaw Pass Road on my Cannonball but as soon as I reached the bottom and started pedaling north along Evergreen Parkway (toward the upper terminus of Kerr Gulch Rd) I could feel the miles I was dragging behind me.

I labored up to Kerr Gulch and was surprised as I looked down the amazingly steep road below.

Let the fun begin!

Kerr Gulch is a screamer most of the way. And it was a pleasant surprise that it didn't turn to pure dirt as I had thought, but at worst just a rough recycled asphalt surface.

Once back on Bear Creek Canyon Rd my speed slowed considerably. Normally I'd be able to blast down BCC, but today my legs were so tired I could hardly maintain a solid 20 mph.

Toward the bottom it steepens and I did cruise into Morrison at a respectable clip, but once I started climbing back up toward our apartment I felt the miles once again. I rolled slowly into our apartment complex and returned home at 10:08...pretty good considering all the factors that could have delayed me...and did delay me.

So Squaw was a confidence thing for me. I'm not so sure I am ready for the TBP and I don't know if I can ride enough between now and July 11 to be ready.

But this was my most ambitious ride ever. If I had made it to the summit of Squaw Mountain I would have traveled about 32 miles and would have gained 6,000' in elevation.

My Mount Evans ride last 4th of July was 14 miles and 4,000'.

Thursday, June 11

Moods

This morning I sat in the kitchen chair glaring at my bike where it was propped against the back of the couch. I hated it. I wanted to throw it out the door and off the deck.

I woke at 4:45. My intention was to get out the door by 5:00 and ride to the summit of Bergen Peak. Once I was awake it hit me...the trail up there would be a mess from the recent rains.

Ugh!

So then I tried to figure out a new pre-work TBP training ride...my mind kept drawing a blank as the minutes ticked away.

Both my bikes need a good cleaning from weather the last few days. Both are gritty with road crud and needing some maintenance, but I have slacked as usual on the preventive maintenance issues. (Need to check the fluids in the cars too!)

I kept hitting a wall while trying to decide what I was going to do. And I dreaded dealing with ignorant drivers and their behavior. I didn't want to ride on the road at all, but our new place is surrounded by roads...

Recently I read (and referenced in an earlier blog) John Forester's "Effective Cycling" techniques. I believe in what he supports, but putting it into practice in the real world if difficult. Taking the lane, sticking your neck out, behaving as a vehicle...very difficult when motorists have the advantage of being protected behind steel and glass while you have little or no protection.

I've been trying, trying to be consistent, ride where the law allows me to ride and maintain my position. And this morning I just didn't want to do it. I am frustrated with the lack of consideration which actually translates to reckless behavior on the part of motorists and I am tired of feeling like the freak on the road, though I have every right to be there and I'm not alone! There are scads of cyclists on the road in Colorado.

After deliberating for over an hour I finally decided I would ride. I'd turn it into a hill workout. Jewell to Alameda, over Dinosaur Ridge, down to Morrison and then up through Red Rocks (where I found a killer steep hill) and then on over to Golden.

Once outside and moving my mood improved, but only slightly.

I was almost to the amphitheater at Red Rocks before I was finally in a good mood and that I love living in the Lakewood/Morrison area. I love being able to ride to work and I love who I am and what I do.

I had pedaled a long way from that kitchen chair where I sat hating my bike and the Triple Bypass and everything less than convenient in life.

This kinda makes me chuckle.

Wednesday, June 10

Challenge

So a few weeks ago I fielded a phone call from an irate landowner concerning a controversial biking event in the county. When I say he was irate that's not truly a strong enough statement, but I'll leave it at that.

So he made a couple of points that I don't particularly agree with and I wanted to address them. At the time I had to just bite my tongue and refrain from responding to his very scathing analysis of cyclists in general.

Point 1: "I'm a taxpayer (ugh!, hate when they start with that!) and when they start taxing their (cyclists) gear then they can start using the roads. Until then they need to ride on the paths."

My response: Most cyclists (especially those that ride on this guy's road) also own property and drive cars, therefore, they pay the same taxes Angry Taxpayer does. Also, bicycles are legal vehicles on the road in Colorado (and many other states) so regardless of whether cyclists pay taxes or not they have the same rights and responsibilities on the roads as other travelers.

Point 2: "They're (cyclists) all over the road and don't abide by the traffic laws." [paraphrased]

My response: You could say the same thing about motorists. On cell phones. Trying to hit cyclists because they're angry at being delayed a whole 30 seconds. It's not that cyclists ignore the law. People fail to abide by the law on both sides of the bumper.

Monday, June 8

Close Call

So on my last ride on Friday I had a heart stopping close call.

I was barreling east on the Clear Creek Trail, just east of the terminus of the Ralston Creek Trail and heading under the Sheridan bridge. I had passed under a few other bridges where the trail had been wet. So when I started down under the Sheridan bridge I saw water and for a split second didn't pay it any mind.

Then I realized that the water I saw was more than wet trail. It was the creek, flowing completely over the trail.

I yanked hard on both brakes in near terror...and went into a sideways skid toward the creek.

In a fraction of a second I reacted by letting off the brakes and slamming down on the pedals. I needed speed.

My skinny tires cut straight into the 8" deep water. I saw debris under the water on the trail and I had no idea where the edge of the pavement was. I kept pedaling.

I made it out unscathed...thankfully. My bike shoes were soaked through with snow runoff.

I continued on down the trail, my heart eventually resuming its normal pace.

The real downer was that I had to retrace my path through the same spot. At least the second time I knew it was coming.

Friday, June 5

Half Century and Half a Thousand

May 5 - June 5: 500.09 miles

This morning: 50.78 miles before work

July 11: 120 miles over three mountain passes

Still: Gulp!

Thursday, June 4

Green Mud...er, Mountain

Thought I'd be cool and contour around Green Mountain on one of the trail instead of riding the road this morning. That was a muddy mess.

Got a glob of mud in my eye, crud all over my bike and it wasn't much fun at all.

I can't wait til the sun comes back out over the Front Range. It'll dry that heap of mud out so fast it'll crackle.

I've slacked on my mileage goal for the week. Of course the rain (and lack of planning on my part) made it difficult for me to get 25 miles a day.

So as of this morning I need to get in 70 miles between today and tomorrow to clock in 500 miles in a month's time (since Cinco de Mayo).

Regardless, I've ridden a record number of miles in a month (for me).

My parents and grandparents are going to be here this weekend so I probably won't get to ride at all. I'm going to have to knock out the miles next week for sure.

9:45pm

I miscalculated earlier...I need 50 miles tomorrow to reach 500 miles in a month...I think I can do it.

Wednesday, June 3

New Point of Origin

So I am liking our new place for most reasons, but one is that I now have a much better pool of great rides to choose from. We're much closer to the foothills now and particularly close to Morrison so I have easy access to Bear Creek Canyon, Red Rocks/Dinosaur Ridge, Mount Falcon and Green Mountain.

And then if I am just gunning through my commute it's just a little over 7 miles and I can crank it out in half an hour (even in the cold rain!)

Today I did a short ride through Red Rocks and then to work, nothing much, but it was nice to have the option.

So here is my short list for TBP training in the upcoming weeks:

Training while commuting:

Mount Falcon from Indian Hills
Flagstaff Summit (maybe from Golden)
Genesee Mountain (because it's awesome!)
Grapevine Rd to Lookout Mtn
Golden Gate Canyon - Coal Creek Canyon Loop

Weekend Rides (all round trips):

Bergen Peak from home
Idaho Springs to Colorado Mines Peak
Squaw Mountain from home
Mount Evans from home

Tuesday, June 2

Rain Pants

I finally used my rain pants.



I need the mileage bad for the TBP. So I only got 9.25 miles this morning, at least I got that.

The worst part of commuting in the rain is dealing with all the wet stuff once I get to work. It wasn't too bad though.

Hopefully it'll be drier the rest of the week so I can crank out the miles. If I get in another 91 miles by Friday I'll have ridden 500 miles in a month time-frame.

Thursday, May 28

400

Ok, so four hundred miles in a month isn't really all that much in the whole scheme of things. But it has taken a concerted effort to attain that goal.

I got to looking at the past month and realized that my riding in May began on the 5th. Then I realized that if I decided to look at a month time frame and not "The Month of May" I still have a chance to get 500 miles in.

So my short term goal is to crank out at least 100 miles between June 1 and June 5. I'm pretty sure I can do it no problem unless something unforeseeable occurs.

TR - Genesee Mountain from Denver

My last few rides have been bust. The last was the ill fated Lee Gulch ride with Lily on Sunday afternoon. The rains came down and it took two full days for my bike shoes to dry out.

On Saturday I tried to ride to Bergen Peak's summit from Morrison. I made it to the trailhead for Bergen, but turned back because I wanted to be back to Golden by 9am. Overall it was a good ride and fun. I rode a short loop through Elk Meadow OS and then detoured onto the Bear Creek Trail in Lair O' the Bear OS on my way back down Bear Creek Canyon. But I felt slow on the entire ride. I crawled painfully slow up Bear Creek Canyon before turning back.

So I took a couple days off the bike, though we did do a five mile hike with the Reitmair's from church on Monday.

This morning I woke at 4:45 am and was stepping out the door and onto the bike at 5:20. My goal was Genesee Mountain's summit which was 25 miles away and 3,000' higher. My mind quivered at the thought, so I quelled the thought initially. The first leg of the ride was my normal commute from Denver to Golden so I just forgot about the remainder for an hour.

But then in Golden I headed into new territory. I passed the Taj and began the long, slow crawl up Mount Vernon Canyon toward Genesee's summit 10 miles further west. Almost immediately I was pounded by a headwind…and the thought that 2,000 of my 3,000' gain was still ahead of me…aimed directly at the beast of a wind barreling out of the canyon.

I told myself that I would reach the summit and that soon I'd be riding down Mount Vernon Canyon with a strong tailwind. It raised my spirits, but didn't strengthen my legs.

The pull of gravity had begun to work its way deep into my legs, permeating the soft tissues of my muscles before beginning to bang on my bones, causing an ache that I so desperately wanted to stop. But I continued…onward…upward.

The one good thing about Mount Vernon Canyon was that most of the way up I could almost see my objective and it didn't look so far away. It was easy to keep my eyes focused on the goal and not on the road below my bottom bracket.

I passed the first I-70 interchange (Highway 40 up Mount Vernon Canyon parallels I-70 for a few miles) and then my spirits began to rise.

Slowly, slowly, 5 mph….7 mph…5 mph…

And then I saw white poking above the ridge in front of me. I was almost to the head of Mount Vernon Canyon and the Genesee interchange where I would enter the park and wind around the wooded slopes to the summit. I crested the divide and took in the Divide. I was looking out across the Clear Creek drainage to the James Peak Wilderness area to the west. It was an amazing view and it was worth all the effort to the point. I could have turned and rode my little red rocket back down to Golden and could have called it a good ride.



But alas, I am not only a cyclist, but a peakbagger as well. To Genesee!

The road through the park was tame and relaxing compared to my long grind up the canyon. It was peaceful and serene and I cranked along at and above 10 mph for the majority of the final leg of the climb.

I passed the spot where we had the picnic on Memorial Day and then the road turned to dirt, but it was hard packed and I just continued to cruise upward like a bird floating on an updraft.

Just below the summit the trees opened up a bit and I got an amazing view of the James Peak area again, as well as a peak of the Mount Evans Massif to the southwest.

And then I was there. The top…the pinnacle…the summit.

8,284'

Everyone knows Denver is at 5,280'.

3,000' of gain…more than my ride up Guanella Pass and a much longer distance to boot but a similar time frame…it had seemed so much less intimidating than Guanella, but I guess it was actually a harder ride.

Mount Evans was 14 miles and 4,000' in elevation gain…so I was definitely approaching the magnitude of the Evans ride. And a good thing. I am planning a 100 mile there and back ride from Lakewood to Mount Evans summit in June. This morning was a perfect training ride for that.

I'm close to my goal of 400 miles for the month of May. I'm at 389. If I ride home today I'll bust 400 easy with a few miles to spare. I probably won't crack 500 this month, but I might be able to get close. I still have tomorrow and there is always the remote possibility of Sunday afternoon if we're all unpacked and put away after the move to our new apartment on Saturday. We'll see. But I'm happy about the 400 all the same. That'll be the most I've ever ridden in a month.

Tuesday, May 26

Raining in Denver

I was going to ride this morning. I was going to ride to the summit of Genesee and then back to work but the forecast said "soggy" so I opted to drive.

Then this morning when I got up it was a delicious sort of rain, like on the Deer Creek - Bear Creek ride I did a few weeks ago. More of a cool drizzle than rain, just enough to make you feel like a man-beast, but not so much as to make for a miserable ride.

I got dressed for work and drove Boone to school before work. It's his last day of kindergarten. Tomorrow is graduation.

But I would have loved to have ridden up to Genesee in the misty fog. I would have enjoyed it thoroughly. I love weather like this, even if it has scrambled my brain chemistry. I think since moving to Colorado I have become addicted to the sun. I notice cloudy days more now than in Kentucky.

8:50pm, Home

I never really elaborated on why I didn't ride this morning. I guess I had decided last night not to climb up Genesee. This morning I woke too late to be able to make the ride and after a weekend of trying to get my cycling mileage in and a five mile geocache hike with the kids I felt I needed a rest. I probably won't ride at all tomorrow though hopefully I can do Genesee Thursday and another Lookout Mountain/Apex ride on Friday.

This coming Saturday we're moving into our new apartment so I won't get to ride that day, and probably not on Sunday either. I'll be riding all week next week to work hopefully and I still have a date with Flagstaff summit from Chatauqua.

I really hope all this weekday riding is benefiting my TBP fitness.

Sunday, May 24

Thunder and Lightning

I took Lily out for a ride this afternoon.

Despite a weather forecast of scattered thundershowers (sort of forgot) we hit the trail about 2pm. We rode south on the SPlatte just past Hudson Gardens to Lee Gulch.

The sky had been angry looking for awhile and we had heard distant thunder on and off the entire ride. We cruised up the Lee Gulch Trail, headed for its eastern terminus and the C-470 Bikeway which I planned on taking back west to the Highline and then to a Rail Spur Trail or something like that, and then on back to the SPlatte.

We got almost all the way to the end of the Lee Gulch Trail before the rain started. I immediately turned back. The rain was coming down hard, cold and the thunder boomed and lightning flashed.

Oops!

I pedaled hard to get down Lee Gulch to a bridge or something where we could try to wait it out.

Unfortunately the only shelter along the trail was almost all the way back to the western terminus. So we finally got there, I was soaked completely and by then I had resolved to call Mandy and have her come get us, which she thankfully did. We met her at Hudson Gardens and drove home.

It was a good ride, but a lesson learned as well. Need better rain gear for me and for the occupants of our bike trailer.

Saturday, May 23

Wa-ay Behind!

So this morning I was a bit ambitious. My intended goal for the morning was to drive over to Morrison, get on the bike at sunrise and crawl up Bear Creek Canyon, through Evergreen and then on to the summit of Bergen Peak.

I got started late and didn't start riding until 5:40am and when I got to the TH for Bergen Peak it was 7:00 and I was sure I couldn't make it to the summit and then back to Morrison by 9:00.

So I turned back and headed down Bear Creek Canyon. At the upper terminus of the Bear Creek Trail (Lair O' the Bear Open Space Park) I jumped on it and cruised to the middle TH and then got back on the pavement to Morrison.

It was a good ride, but I am bummed I didn't make the climb to Bergen's summit. It was my own fault for lagging out of the gate though.

I desperately need to be riding more though. The TBP is going to take me 10 hours or so and right now I'm lucky to get in 3 hour training rides. I've got to do some longer rides.

8:50pm

So I get the feeling that the masses misinterpret this sign far too often:



One day a few months ago I was headed home on Logan. There is no room for a motorist to pass a cyclist between Speer and Alameda (and maybe farther south as well) and people drive far too fast on the road anyway. So when I do choose to ride on Logan from Cherry Creek I take the lane. Its the only option.

Of course motorists expect you to get over when there is a gap in the parked cars, but this is even more dangerous than continuing in the lane. Once you go into the gap/parking lane, there is no guarantee that drivers will let you back over. Consistency is the best policy for sure. And to be extra safe you should stay a few feet left of the parked cars in case someone opens a door unexpectedly.

So this one day I'm flying down Logan at a good clip and pass through the intersection at 1st and a woman in a Jeep guns past me in the middle of the intersection, barely giving me enough room (not passing when its safe) and yells:

"SHARE THE ROAD!"

She totally missed the point I guess.

Thursday, May 21

Bicycles Vs. Motor Vehicles

It really shouldn't be a face-off. Both bikes and cars should be able to co-exist.

The League of American Wheelmen helped launch the Good Roads Movement around the turn of the century, making possible nice smooth roads for the earliest automobiles to cruise upon.

According to John Forester the first bikeway policies were created by motorists, not cyclists:

"When consistent high-speed motoring became possible, with the first freeways and the like, and when cyclists had no political power (1940s), the motoring establishment enacted traffic laws that prohibited cyclists from using more than the right-hand margin of roads, from using roads when a path was available, and from using the new high-speed roads. The motoring establishment used the argument that these restrictions were necessary for the safety of cyclists. In actual fact, they were arguing that motorists should not have to slow down for the safety of cyclists, but there were no spokesmen for cyclists empowered to point out that truth."

Robert Moses and others shaped an America that shunned public transit and human powered transport for the glamor and convenience of the car with very little consideration of the consequences. Rail travel declined because the auto industry willed it to be so.

Moses had a utopian vision of parkways and his development of the landscape around New York City was an influence on the rest of America. We wholly focused on being behind the wheel, building our cities to cater to our growing obsession.

The car has been a central theme in the "American Dream" since the '50s and continues to be so even today, in our world where everyone can scoff at the US's over-dependence on foreign oil. Every 16 year old kid's greatest desire is to get a license and gain a perception of freedom from the oppression of the mature. And we mature even go so far as to encourage that attitude, salute a young person's escalation to motorist as a "rite of passage."

And now in the 21st Century America is beginning to see a glimmer of the folly. Our wholesale dependence on petroleum powered transport has become part of the focus of our woes. We blame wars on that dependence. We see it as a slavery to all that is bad in the global economy, but still we drive, drive, drive. We push our children behind the wheel while bemoaning the dangers they will encounter on the road. It's amazing...

We live in Wash Park. The neighborhood is perfectly suited for bicycle travel. There is no reason that the speed limit should be greater than 20 mph in most places and you can get from one end of a block to the other on a bike in the same amount of time that you can in a car moving at reasonable speed.

But the reality is that people fly down narrow streets at upwards of 30-40 mph, honking angrily at cyclists and yell "SHARE THE ROAD!" when they are forced to wait for a safe situation to pass. As if "Share the Road" was a rally cry for impatient motorists...

Our society has trained us to have no patience and believe that slower moving modes of transportation are unsafe. You only walk for utility if you are too poor to afford a car or a second car. You only ride a bike for fun, and far from the roads unless you're "crazy."

In Kentucky it was even worse. Grown people just don't do that sort of thing unless they have lost their license and still have a job.

Americans don't consider how far away their jobs are from where they live sleep. I knew of people in Kentucky that drove hours for mediocre jobs. It was fairly common to have an hour (one way) commute for jobs that barely paid the bills. No one would ever consider the good sense of moving closer to work or finding a less paying job (and GASP! living within their means) closer to home.

Now in Colorado I see people who live in the mountains (part of the American Dream) and commute long distances to work in Denver and the surrounding suburbs. Then they wail about their hardships when the distance and climate interfere with their lifestyle.

Live way out in the suburbs and work miles away in the city...a necessary part of the American Dream...

How absurd!

Wednesday, May 20

Locality

So one thing occurred to me while Lily and I were out on our ride today:

Back in November we did a family ride on the "Community" Ditch Trail near Boulder. I blogged about how when Boone's bike got a flat when we were a long way from the car, that we traveled a long way with many cyclists passing us, none asking if we needed help (except for one group as we were getting back to the car), very few even slowing down.

It was frustrating and disheartening. It was something we were unused to.

Today (and most days since) was different. Lily and I stopped for a snack and a guy in a Team Evergreen jersey slowed down and asked if we were ok and needed help. Last family ride we did along the South Platte involved searching for a geocache. While we were stopped someone asked if we needed help. I've also noticed people helping other cyclists.

When we were out on that last ride as a family we had a flat in a neighborhood and a lady (not a cyclist) stopped to see if we needed help.

So is it a Boulder thing? Are cyclists around Boulder on such a tight training schedule that they can't help a fellow cyclist in trouble? Or was it because we weren't really a part of their "community" what with biking with our kids and all?

I ride for fun, utility, fitness and for transportation. I ride on the road, trails and paths. I ride alone and with my family. I ride when the weather is bad, all seasons, up grades, down rough descents, in traffic and anywhere else my two feet and two tires will take me.

I was slightly annoyed at the Jersey Guy that once scoffed at us as we rode the South Platte as if we were tourons. And so what if we were?

Anyway, I just got to thinking about the one time up near Boulder and how that experience was different from most I've had out biking around other people.