Tuesday, August 30

Made in China

While I did grow up during the twilight years of the Cold War, I don't harbor specific hatred for the last remaining communist superpower in the world. Just because people have different colored skin and differently shaped eyes is not a reason to dislike them in my book. In fact, I don't even dislike the Chinese because they are communists. I don't dislike people from China period. Even if they were to pee on my rug.

Yesterday I googled "Are Cannondale bikes made in the USA?" and came across a forum thread where someone asked exactly that question because they wouldn't buy one if they were made in China. And then the other members of the forum proceeded to lambast the poor guy for being a narrow-minded bigot. As far as I could tell the originator of the thread never countered the aggression, and it was hot. I don't think the poor guy had anything against the Chinese specifically...

At my LBS they carry both Raleigh and Cannondale mountain bikes. I really liked the price and setup of the Raleigh Talus 29er. I loved the XXIX+G but the price is a few hundred more than I can justify spending on a second bike at this juncture in my life. And then I discovered that Raleigh bikes are made in China. Instantly my amore for them waned.

So I knew the shop carries Cannondale as well. The Cannonball was a US made aluminum framed bike and I love it. From a sustainability perspective my 17 year old bike goes a long way. So my question to myself was: "Are Cannondale bikes (still) made in the USA?" It seemed like somewhere in the depths of memory was something I heard in passing that indicated C'dale bikes were no longer made in the US.

So my google search provided some answers and a few questions.

As best I can tell at this time Cannondale bikes are made in Taiwan and assembled in the US. Rockshox are also made overseas, as are many of the parts and components of today's big brands.

It's disheartening, and not because I don't like Chinamen who build our railroads and then pee on our rugs, but because from a sustainability standpoint even a bicycle has too big a carbon footprint.

I would love to be able to afford a locally made bicycle. But the unfortunate factor is the cost. I just cannot afford a locally built custom bike. And there really are no locally made spec bikes.

I looked at Yeti and they are obscenely expensive. I would kill for a Spot bike with a Gates Carbon Drive but I'd have to rob a bank as well. Let's not even discuss Moots...

Mosaic bike built in Boulder: $3,500

So as a financially poor non-racing mountain biker who just wants to have fun and do one insanely difficult race in his life, but who is also conscious of his ecological footprint, I am limited to just not buying a bike at all. End of story.

How many practical miles would I have to ride my foreign made bike to offset the carbon impact of its construction and delivery? That, Dear Readers, is a fine questions and a potential challenge if I do say so myself!

I will get back to you on this one...

Oh, and please don't be sad for me if I go through with buying the Cannondale Trail SL 2. Don't hate me. At the very least I am doing my homework before buying the bike and trying to make the ecologically conscious decision.

The issue with "Made in China" isn't China. If I lived in China then it would make perfect sense. Heck "Made in Italy" is no better, even though I drool at the thought of a real Italian made bike. The problem is in the impact on our environment this type of consumerism causes. We have to look at our purchases with a keener eye and make better decisions. Our economies and our environment will not tolerate many more decades of this insane behavior.

I wish I had the luxury of a huge career change to make my own bikes. Of course I don't, and of course I'd have to charge an arm an a leg to get by.

Yeti ARC $2,200

Moots Rigormootis FRAME ONLY - $2775

Spot Rocker Geared or belt drive $3,600

The Yeti ARC is the closest to cost efficient for me, but again, that kind of money is not doable for many people. If cost were no object I'd go for a Moots or a Spot in a heartbeat. Moots are made in Steamboat Springs and Spot and Yeti are made here in Golden.

My problem isn't one of choice, but of a lack of affluence. I just don't have the money to make the choice I want to make. So how does that factor into market economics?

Monday, August 29

Singletrack Dreams

I've owned a mountain bike since 1995 not counting the Huffy Mountain Storm I bought from The Evil Walmart in 1992, and I've only just recently accepted that I've been a closet mountain biker all along.

Way back when I rode around the fringe of the Red River Gorge of eastern Kentucky and around the oil fields and public lands of the Daniel Boone National Forest. I rode mainly on old logging roads, fire roads and some trail-ish things here and there. In the RRG proper mountain biking is prohibited on all but one trail, a designated mountain bike trail (The Powder Mill Trail), that's overgrown and mostly unknown. I tried to ride it once.

I did manage to find some favorite areas to ride and I often returned to my haunts to ply the landscape on the Cannonball back when it resembled a mid-90s era mountain bike. It was a fine bike for learning the ropes. Aluminum frame, solid wheels and fantastic gearing. I didn't have any single track to ride, or downhill, and there were no other mountain bikers to feed off of. I rode a lot on the roads, but I tried to get off road as much as possible.

I had a great pavement/dirt loop I used to ride from Slade that actually involved a significant technical descent of a loose and steep 4WD road. And then there was that whole Spaas/Short Creek area. I loved riding down Spaas Creek Road from Hatton Ridge.

My absolute favorite ride a was a loop with a couple of variations that started near the mouth of Bald Rock Fork on Big Sinking Creek. I rode along the northern banks and hillsides of Big Sinking following oil roads and occasionally dropping into the dry creek bed (it sinks) before picking up New Virginia Road at the mouth of Little Sinking Creek. At New Virginia there was a rocky and technical climb that I never mastered which was followed by a fun and mostly smooth road that wound in and out of shaded hollows back to the mouth of Bald Rock Fork. The loop is only 4 miles, but it was always a lot of fun.

There were a couple of exploratory singletrack jaunts up to Cave Run near Morehead, but there was little there to get me hooked on trail riding. I rode the Buckskin Trail but ended up with a flat and a three mile hike pushing a bike. I took Mandy on Caney Loop, a well known and well respected 9 mile loop near the dam, but horses had destroyed all of the hollow crossings and any damp or muddy area, making for numerous mandatory hike-a-bikes. Its just not fun to go for a mountain bike ride and then spend most of the day pushing or carrying your bike.

I've been leery in Colorado of biking on trails because of some misconceptions I'm starting to disprove to myself. First, I've always believed it would be far too frustrating to share narrow trails with hikers. And each time I've gone out to ride I've found few hikers and have always managed to share the trail successfully and enjoyably. Of course I avoid highly congested trails on weekends, but still, the world of trail sharing mire I imagined has yet to materialize. The second issue that has kept me away was a lack of skill on my part. I always believed riding on trails would require a level of technical prowess I just do not seem to possess. But in recent weeks I've found I actually enjoy and excel at fast singletrack descents. I've managed to do some climbs I didn't think I would and I've walked a few I couldn't with no shame.

The last trail ride I did involved a great ride high on the NE side of North Table Mountain with steep slopes above and below and amazing views of the metro area. The trail was just rough enough to keep my attention fixed, but just enjoyable enough that the few glimpses of the stunning view I managed didn't distract me too much.

I crave the proprioceptive input that biking off-road provides. There's nothing like a well flowing trail that you can just crank along on to stimulate the nerves and feed the brain.

I love, love, love the Buffalo Creek area, and wish I'd had more time the first day I went out there to do a couple more laps on the Strawberry Jack descent, or to find some more fun descents to do. But I've discovered only in this past week that there are some pretty fun trails between my house and work, out around town and within easy striking distance.

I've been mapping out some from home rides to get me onto dirt when I only have a couple of hours. Its really amazing to me how much good mountain biking there is to be had within my field of view each day: North and South Table, Green Mountain, Chimney Gulch, Apex OS, Golden Gate Canyon SP, White Ranch OS, Bear Creek Lake, Standley Lake, Mount Falcon OS, Centennial Cone OS, Community Ditch area (Dirty Bismark), and so much more up in the foothills or only a short drive away in the mountains or down in the Splatte...too much, too close.

It's hard for me not to go blasting over to Arvada Bike tonight to order a bike. I need to be patient. I need to make sure I make the right decision...


Talked to Richard at the bike shop and he can get me a fantastic deal on a 2011 Cannondale Trail SL 2.

Narrowing Down the Field

WARNING: My wife should not read this post beyond the initial bike description.

I have a final contender for MY NEW MOUNTAIN BIKE: the Cannondale Trail SL 29er. [ALERT: Change of mind! I'm going to stick with a 26 inch bike, but I still want to go with the Cannondale Trail SL 2]

The big pros over the other bikes?

1) Made in the US [Neh, used to be...]

2) Price is less than the Raleigh XXIX+G

3) Good quality but upgradeable

4) Brother Cannondale!

5) Can get from my LBS

I think the Cannondale may just be the winner. The guy at the bike shop talked up the Raleigh over the Cannondale counterparts, but I just can't in good conscience buy a bike "Made in China" over one made in the US.

[Spouse should stop reading here]

Anyway, why the sudden keen interest on a new bike? It had really just been a back burner issue for awhile. But events of recent days has led me to see the need for a new mountain bike, namely, the final carport vs bike event in our family's history. I say "final" because of two reasons: first, the factory rooftop racks on Gump are decimated. Second, we're never putting a bike on top of a car again. Full stop.

I'm going to take the Rocky Mounts trays and use them for bike-to-bike towing.

The good news is that the only thing wrecked on the OBS is the front fork.

And so we're also in the long term market for a rear hitch that will support the longtails. Will take some research.

Sunday, August 28

USAPCC (Final) Stage 6: Golden to Denver

I slammed into Golden on 44th a full 4:00 ahead of the leaders. As I crossed the starting line I pumped my fists in the air in victory, bellowing to the heavens in exultation. The sparse crowd of spectators looked at me as if I had horns growing out of my head. I sheepishly attacked my pedals and started my second loop around town to cross the line again.

73.8 miles, three passes through Golden, up and over Lookout Mountain, out to Denver and six laps before finishing at the state capitol. And we were there.

I did ride over early to catch the Founders' Race up Lookout Mountain. I stayed until or friend Andy Kerr passed and then headed over to church.

I cut out at 10:30 and rode the Cannonball over to 19th and Illinoising where I got some great photos of the peloton starting up Lookout Mountain.

I jetted back to church, grabbed the kids and we watched the riders come blasting down Johnson below where I work.

Levi! High five!

The riders continued back into Golden and then out to Denver. Oss and Viviani took first and second in the stage in a sprint to the line and Levi Leipheimer held onto his time lead and won the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The final jersey winners for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge:

Levi Leipheimer - YELLOW (leader jersey)

Rafael Montiel - Red (King of the Mountain)

Elia Viviani - Green (Best sprinter)

TeJay VanGarderen - Blue (Best young rider)

Timmy Duggan - Orange (Most aggressive rider)

The final time standings (top five, all USA):

1) Levi Leipheimer Team RadioShack 20:00:24

2) Christian VandeVelde Team Garmin-Cervélo 20:00:35

3) Tejay Van Garderen HTC-Highroad 20:00:41

4) Tom Danielson Team Garmin-Cervélo 20:00:45

5) George Hincapie BMC Racing Team 20:01:17

Saturday, August 27

USAPCC Stage 5: Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge

Stage 5: Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge, 106 miles.

Urg, I didn't watch today's stage. My laptop wouldn't install the software for the Shack Tracker.

So to sum it up...Viviani won again. Caught it on twitter.

I can't find the updated standings. I'll post those later. Still excited about tomorrow!

I did show up to volunteer in Golden this morning and was told they had too many volunteers. But I got the schwag bag and we picked up a copy of the official poster, signed by the artist (local)!

Golden is insane right now. It's only going to get crazier.

This afternoon we visited with Richard at Arvada Bike and talked replacement fork for the OBS, non-roof mounted car racks and a Leadville-worthy 29er. He steered me toward the Raleigh XXIX+G and the Raleigh Talus Sport 29er. The difference is the XXIX+G is twice the cost of the Talus Sport.

So the contenders for LV are:

Kona Kahuna ($1100)

Raleigh Talus Sport 29er ($700)

Raleigh XXIX+G ($1400)

Got some considering to do...

Friday, August 26

Ramming Speed Friday: Course Preview Edition

Yowzaa! 17.3 mph average on my ride home tonight...not bad for a jaunt through suburbia. (Roughly my third fastest RSF ever. The fastest was 19.9 mph average)

I rode a portion of Stage 6 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, though in reverse...and I cranked on some crusher fine trails at a high rate of speed. Fun, fun, fun!

Left work a little early because we were having company tonight. I dropped down highway 6 path to Illinoising and then through Golden on Ford. Turned on 10th, crossed the RR trax of doom successfully and took 44th right on out of town to the Easley dogleg.

I took Easley over to the Golden Bike Park. Easley/44th/10th will be the first loop out of Golden on Sunday. I love Easley. Nice shaded country-ish road along the southeast side of North Table Mountain, not so bad traffic today and a nice smooth surface to roll over.

I jogged east through the bike park onto the ditch trail, hit 50th to McIntyre, up to 52nd, 52nd to Eldridge and Eldridge to the Van Bibber Greenbelt. I had Van Bibber to myself and I was in my highest gear cranking along the crusher fine trail, feeling strong and enjoying the feeling of speed. Poetry...

Sweat streamed off me as I screeched to a halt at the Bikeport. Home.

We had much company for dinner and one of our guests brought me two projects: two ten speeds, a cruiser and a women's road bike. I haven't gotten a good chance to look them over yet, but the road bike would make an excellent Xtracycle conversion and the cruiser will be a nice "around town" bike once fixed up.

For now they both need tubes and tires and lots of TLC. We'll see what shape they're in after the weekend. But I'm contemplating a future Xtracycle build for sure.

In the morning we'll be pedaling into Golden, me to volunteer at the Sustainability, Health & Wellness Expo and the fam will browse the farmers' market and all the bike race related activities going on. Fun, fun, fun!

I'm bummed because while I'll be in the thick of things during the race on Sunday for photos, I'm going to miss the live internet coverage and will miss the big finish in Denver. But I'm sure there will be a DVD for sale soon after the race is finished...

USAPCC Stage 4: Avon to Steamboat Springs

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 4: Avon to Steamboat Springs, 82.9 miles

Stage 4 goes through a beautiful area on the west side of the Continental Divide. With five Americans leading the standings this stage (and the remainder of the race) promises to be exciting.

No live video feed at 20 miles in. Looks like there has been a break by Javier Acevedo and then a chase and catch by Stefan Denifl of Lay-oh-pard Trek and Cristhian Montoya of Gobemacion De Antiquia. The peloton is only 0:23 back so it could get interesting real quick.

At 21 miles another chase breaks away. Rubens Bertogliati comes and then goes.

Its a shorter stage today, so the riders will have to take advantage of any opportunity to get away from the peloton. Reportedly there are some rollers. Looks like the worst will come just before 40 miles in.

At an hour 46 minutes the gap has increased to 2 minutes between peloton and growing breakaway group.

50 miles in, with 32 to go, the breakaway is comprised of Acevedo, Denifl and Montoya joined by Bertogliati and Vladimir Efmkin both of Team Type 1 – SANOFI. The peloton is hanging back at 2:35.

The Brits are yakking again. "USA" Pro Cycling Challenge guys! USA! If I want to listen to Brits commentate I can watch America's Got Talent.

The average speed at 57 miles is 24 mph. The video shows some riders screaming across the landscape as they approach the sprint just a few miles away.

At 20 miles to go the gap is less than 2 minutes.

Apparently there is a large welcome sign going into Steamboat suspended from a five-seater bike. That will be cool!

The break is breaking up. Acevedo and Montoya have fallen back with 12 miles to go.

With 10 miles to go the main field has closed the gap to almost a minute.

The peloton is closing on the breakaway. Another exciting finish? I think so.

Efimkin has broken away and is trying to claim yellow today!

The breakaway reforms with Acevedo, Denifl and Efimkin. Pelo is only 10 seconds back.

With less than five miles to go the field overtakes the breakaway. Go, go, go!!!

Liquigas controls the front of the field at 3 miles out.

BMC is trying to move George up. C'mon George!

Jens Voigt is in the lead pulling Liquigas team behind.

With a mile to go things are getting ready to explode.

Blam! All heck breaks loose and the peloton breaks like a wave on the rocks!

Elia Viviani goes hard and wins the stage! Viva Italia!

Morkov and Van Hummel followed across the finish.

As of today's finish the General Classification stands at:

1) Leipheimer 13:28:43

2) VandeVelde +0:11

3) Van Garderen +0:17

4) Danielson +0:21

5) Hincapie +0:53

6) Infantio +1:14

7) Evans +1:18

8) Clement +1:42

9) Pires +1:49

10 Sutherland +1:50

The Family Breakaway on the bike path in Steamboat Springs...Fall 2010

...and the sprint to lunch!

A good place to refuel in Yampa

Thursday, August 25

USAPCC Stage 3: Vail Time Trial and ramble

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 3: Vail Time Trial, 10 miles

Like I said yesterday, I've ridden the TT course. During the Triple Bypass, after cresting Vail Pass and coasting into the rain on the backside, I crossed my first 100 mile point, my first century, just a few short miles above the end of the TT course. As I watched my cyclocomputer tick over to 100 I was coasting along a sodden bike path along I-70 doing about 30 mph around windey curves.

After I saw my century mark pass I laid on the pedals, anxious to get to Avon and the end of my ordeal. I was starting to get cold. My hands and feet were tingling uncomfortably. I was done. And the perception was that summiting Vail Pass put the trial of the Triple Bypass behind you, but there were 30 miles left to go. Mentally those were 30 of the hardest miles I've ever ridden.

So when I saw the course route I couldn't help but relive a few of those memories. The area around Vail Pass was one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride I did, and also the most stunning scenery. Below Copper Mountain the bike path climbed up Ten Mile Creek Canyon below thousand plus foot cliffs of granite. At Copper the path turns west and meanders up through sub-alpine meadows to the pass itself, which is unremarkable due to development centered around the interstate. There is a rest area and some maintenance buildings at the summit.

But the descent on the west side of the pass takes you back into forests and on a clear day (unlike the day I rode) you can see the Gore Range sweeping off to the west beyond the town of Vail.

Racers today will begin in town and race east up toward the pass along the frontage roads. I'm not sure I'll watch much of the live video coverage. Vail is a gaudy resort town in my book. Some people like that sort of thing. I don't.

Eagle County (Avon) is where Moto-fascist Benzinger (Martin Erzinger) struck cyclist Steven Milo with his Mercedes and fled the scene. Benzinger got off with a slap on the wrist because he's rich and manages the assets of rich people.

Municipal Vail is a nexus for cycling related events in my life. We also manned an aid station for the Copper Triangle in Vail a few weeks ago.

I can't imagine there will be much to report except numbers at the end of the day. I'll catch a little of the video to make sure I don't miss anything stunning, but for the most part I'm uninterested in time trials. I didn't watch a ton of the prologue on Monday either.

I'm stoked Hincapie won yesterday's stage. I like George. I started to become a fan while reading Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike and I've followed Hincapie out of my peripheral ever since. He's about my age and has been racing forever. He's not Lance, but is one of the most recognizable American pro cyclists out there.

In a different life I would have gone into bike racing when I was a young lad and I'd be there alongside these guys. I'm serious. I've never shied away from riding a bike and when I was young I was strong in the legs, long-suffering and apt to move through the world under my own power. I could have been a strong cyclist right out of the gate. I won a varsity letter in cross country with little to no effort on my part as a freshman in high school.

There was potential then. I'm a bit too old to get into road cycling now, but I'm warming to the idea of mountain bike racing for sure. They say middle aged men are prime for mountaineering, endurance is optimal, strategy and judgment are peak and its during middle age that mountaineers find their rhythmn and excel. There's no reason that doesn't translate well to long distance MTBing in the west.

I can be scrappy when it comes to covering a lot of miles in a short period of time. Need I remind you of my Clingman's Dome attempt a few years ago? 28 miles on foot in 24 hours over frozen snow, gaining considerable (for the east) elevation... I was coming off a bout of flu that stripped 20 pounds from my frame. It was December.

I'm doing this to bolster my Leadville confidence. It's going to take me a year to quell the butterflies. Of course my South Table exploits yesterday went a long way to boost my confidence. My shoulder is doing well and I felt strong climbing and then blasting along the top of the mesa in a couple of laps.

I've got to work on my speed. Speed is something I've never had in spades, nor cared much for. But on my first attempt at the LV 100 I want to crack 9 hours. I know I sound naive saying that. But I'm not. I know how far I am from being able to pull that off.

I've never been able to get into the TdF, but I've followed the USAPCC like a fiend. I love it! It's inspired me like nothing else cycling related. I've had some strong commutes and rides this week. I hope i can keep the momentum up come Monday morning.

Final results for Vail TT:

1) Levi Leipheimer (back in yellow!): 25:47

2) Christian Vandevelde: +01

3) Rafael Infantino: +05

4) Tom Danielson: +33

5) Stef Clement: +41

6) Tejay Van Garderen: +51

7) Dave Zabriskie: +1:00

8) Jens Voigt: +1:02

9) Cadel Evans: +1:02

10) George Hincapie: +1:11

Tomorrow's Stage 4 goes from Avon, CO to Steamboat Springs. I'm familiar with both towns. They're rolling closer and closer to Golden and then Denver!

Wednesday, August 24

USAPCC Stage 2: Gunnison to Aspen

Stage 2: 130 miles, Gunnison to Aspen via Buena Vista over Cottonwood and Independence Passes

What follows are my thoughts as I listen (an occasionally check in for video) Stage 2 of what truly should be called the "Tour of Colorado." I'm glad to hear American commentators today. Let's make this our own, no European traditions need to instantly transfer over to OUR race.

At four miles the stage starts off with a brisk 19.9 mph pace. Things look interesting for the day...

As the riders snaked up alongside the Arkansas River...we're rewarded with stunning views of the Arkansas River Valley. And the average pace climbs quickly.

6 man breakaway heads for Cottonwood. Big ambitions on this day of two passes.

Wait! Roadies in dirt? What gives?

Around noon lightning strikes were reported on the road ahead, near Twin Lakes (of Leadville 100 fame!) but nothing striking the racers just yet.

Roads are wet (but not sloppy) under the 6 man breakaway as they crawl toward the summit of Cottonwood Pass.

Tornado warning in ASPEN?! That's just plain crazy! Will we see Elmira Gulch making an attack for the finish?

The breakaway is at Cottonwood summit...wading through a spirited crowd, past a huge inflatable "frontiersman," 3:30 ahead of the peloton and now screaming down the east side of the pass.

Walter Pedraza takes KOM points, puts on a jacket and heads down. Pedraza removes jacket two minutes later, tries to give it to film crew.

Pelo over the top at 2 hrs 25 min.Looks like some sprinkles are flying as the riders are on their way down toward Boonta Vistal.

One commentator is talking about life behind the Green Curtain in the People's Republic of Boulder. Heehee!

Approaching Clear Creek Reservoir the breakaway is 4:50 ahead of the peloton. Apparently there was a crash involving a cattle grate on the climb up Cottonwood Pass. Still no word on who went down...

Wondering how they will deal with the RR crossing in Golden, on Sunday's stage, where I crashed and wrecked my shoulder...

It looks like Danny Pate has been out front for much of the day so far. Breakaway is maintaining 4:50 lead.

Levi has hung back in the peloton. From what I understand this is normal behavior for the leader. He is typically protected by his team during the stage.

At Clear Creek Reservoir the gap has closed down to about 4 minutes.

"Miserable long climb" is how one commentator describes Independence. Sounds fun!

The peloton is closing (down to 3:50) past Clear Creek Reservoir.

Basso went down before Cottonwood and injured his wrist. No word on who else crashed.

Breakaway will cross the LV course shortly Fuzzy feelings!

Leipheimer is moving to the rear of the peloton alone. Problems? Nah, yakking with the team car.

He slips back into the herd. Will Lance high-five him in Aspen?

They've made the turn-off to Twin Lakes! Too bad the route doesn't go through Leadville.

It appears the peloton is slowly, but steadily closing the gap to the breakaway gang.

People are asking "where are the thong-wearing Borat impersonators along the route?" Please don't show them!

Andre Steensen of Saxo Bank breaks away, ripping the breakaway group apart into a couple of chase groups. The attack on Independence Pass is on!

Steensen is all alone out front climbing Independence Pass! The peloton is only 1:10 back!

Daniele Callegarin was the injured rider at the cattle guard on Cottonwood Pass. He broke both hands and has maxilofacial trauma (sounds traumatic). He's been airlifted to Denver.

The peloton is getting ready to swallow Steensen whole!

Infantino breaks for the pass, Steensen is only 35 seconds ahead of the peloton.

Where did Steensen go? Stetina and Weening are after Infantino. The descent is going to be exciting, eh?

Ah, Steensen spit out!

A. Schleck falls out of the field and Leipheimer is out front of hte peloton with a single teammate.

Infantino is keeping a few seconds ahead up to the summit of Independence.

Looks like Stetina and Weening have been spit out?

Just over a mile to go to the summit. Infantino still in the lead.

VanGarderen is trying to take the Pass!

Infantino goes! They are starting over the hump. Leipheimer and crew (VanGarderen and Vandevelde) are puttin' the spurs to 'er!

15 miles to go, and all downhill!

Raining on the pack now. Stay upright guys!

Rooting for Levi to hold onto yellow. At this point there are no guarantees!

Less than 10 miles to go. Who's it going to be? The pelo is only 30 seconds back!

My boss sent me a text a few minutes ago saying he was in a hearing watching the race on his iPad. Ha!


Big crowds in Aspen. Lance is in there somewhere.

Coverage is frozen. Nothing but those derned Brits blabbering!

Four unknown riders are out front. Levi? Vandevelde? Danielson? VanGarderen?

Raining at the finish line now.

Looks like the same four breakaway are out front: LL, CV, TG, RI. Maybe?

Less than 4 miles to go and the riders are still around the dark side of the moon.

There's a report of Sutherland in the "front group."

Hincapie in the lead pack! Awesome!!!

LL, CVV, TJVG, GH, TD, JV, RI in the lead going into Aspen. We're going to Aspen!

Levi leading chase group! Go Georgie!!!

Arg!!! Video feed unstable as finish looms!

Very wet roads!


Poor Levi. Way back...lost the yellow.

Biking Mountains

Eh, I rode over South Table Mountain this morning. Broke my own rule...but it felt GOOD!

No pain in the shoulder. I'm still doing my PT exercises. I would have bailed at the first hint of pain. The trail I took skirted my normal commute through Applewood so I really lost no time. Adding two miles and a few hundred feet of climbing only tacked on 15 minutes to my commute, so I'm stoked about that.

Today is Bean's first day of pre-school so I had no co-commuter. She harrumphed as I wished her a good first day before I left the house. Ah, the drama of children!

South Table will be nice training for me for LV. I can climb up out of the suburbs, do some dirt laps, repeat some climbs and then drop right down onto my commute only a mile from work. The views of the western suburbs are stunning, if you're into the whole sprawl thing, but it was nice to be so close to everything, but above it all and separate. The bomb back down to NREL and back to the world of the Grind was fun, but too swift. I'll tack on some mileage in the future.

Of course my slaughter of a prairie ascent does not compare to the daunting climbs facing the riders of the USPCC. Cottonwood Pass, the first climb in today's stage is 12,122' and Independence is 12,100'. The trailhead where I left the pavement sits at a lofty 5,720', and South Table Mountain's summit is a stratospheric 6,335 feet.

A nice aspect of my MTB diversion is that it avoids the dreaded two lane, 30 mph speed zone along Denver West...and I gain the views, the fresh air, the fauna (saw three deer!) and the hard breathing associated with climbing and getting stronger.


Meant to start out the day with this post, but got sidetracked by my singletrack sidetrack:

Mandy teaches at the private school where Boone attended last year. This fall Bean will be going to pre-school a few days a week and the other days I'll be shuttling her to Lind-topia.

School starts hard stop today. Mandy's been going over the past two days to get things in her classroom ready and yesterday was my first commute with Bean and it went well.

So our family commuting season has officially begun. Unfortunately, unlike last year, Mandy and Boone won't be able to commute by bike as much. Last year the would drive up in the morning and take Boone's bike, Mandy would work half a day and drive back home. Then at the end of the day she would ride the Ute up with Bean to pick up the boy and they'd return home by bike.

This year Mandy works all day and will also be shuttling a couple of other kids, so biking is going to be less feasible for them.

We'd love to be able to work it out, but its about 9 miles with some big hills for an eight year old. Eventually Boone will be able to drop his mom on the hills, but for now its painful to ride up there with him and try to keep a timetable.

But Bean and I...well, we'll be riding a few days every week regardless. I've saddled up the Cannonball with kid gear and am calling it all good as training for LV. Last night I blasted a 28 minute commute home. That's the first sub-30 min commute I've logged, though its possible I've matched it before, I've just never kept precise times.

I managed that with the seat/aerobrake and a few extra pounds (including two library books) so, suck on that Leiphiemer!

There are some potential changes brewing at work which would give me an extra day off...EVERY WEEK. I hope and pray it works out. My stress levels should drop off and theorhetically I'll have some good training time for Leadville next summer. The good news is that I will also be able to ride to school with them, making the bike commute for the whole family possible at least some of the time.

While I'll be covering the USPCC all week the big story is that the USPCC is coming to OUR TOWN!!! I'll be volunteering early on Saturday morning in Golden and I've been working out my photo strategy for the big Golden to Denver stage. Nothing definite yet.

Tuesday, August 23

USAPCC Stage 1: Salida to Crested Butte

Today's stage went over Monarch Pass in the Sawatch Range which is southwest of Colorado Springs. The stage was about 99 miles and followed US 50 from Salida to Gunnison, where it then took a hard right and went north along CO 135 to Crested Butte.

On a side note, I attended a meeting for law enforcement and emergency providers in Jefferson County this morning and it was enlightening for sure. Sunday's final stage is sure to be exciting, looping out of and around Golden and back three times before blasting east to Denver for what will hopefully be a grand finale. The myriad concerns this race is bringing to everyone's attention over the next week is an order of magnitude beyond normal special events. Mind boggling.

And while I understand the frustration many residents across the state feel as their roads are clogged and their towns are overrun by race fans and spectators, I don't understand the animosity some unenlightened individuals seem to be acting upon.

The night before the Deer Creek Challenge which occurred this past Sunday someone dumped a thick layer of sand a few yards long on one of the mountain roads the riders would use. Cyclists and authorities have been finding tacks, glass and other debris along the route for weeks. Last night someone tried to sabotage the USPCC route by pouring oil on the backside of Monarch Pass (today's stage) and someone else apparently crashed a truck through port-o-lets put out for spectators near Cottonwood Pass.

Its appalling that someone would do something so insidious and put ALL road users in danger, not just the racers.

Anyway, back to the race at hand...I have never visited the area where today's stage passes through so I can't speak to the terrain or scenery beyond what I can glean from Google Maps and google searches for images of the area. But knowing what little I do, I can imagine its stunning. The video coverage of the riders showed a pretty amazing arid landscape.

US 50 that the riders start out on is THAT US 50 that crosses the US and passes through cities like Reno, Nevada, Kansas City, St. Louis and Cincinnati, Ohio. It's also the subject of a cool song by one of my favorite bands: The Tillers from Cinci.

There was an early breakaway, four riders crossed Monarch Pass ahead of the peloton and by the time the leaders reached Gunnison there were two: Jay Thompson of Bissell and Bradley White of UnitedHealthcare.

Eduard Beltran Suarez claimed the King of the Mountain point for the stage.

As the breakaway, Beltran on chase duty and the rest of the field crossed from the bottom of the descent of Monarch Pass to Gunnison to the west they battled headwinds and there was speculation about the crosswinds they would face as they turned north for Crested Butte.

From Gunnison the route climbed gradually up to Crested Butte. There were sprint points at Gunnison and just outside of Crested Butte where riders could pick up a few seconds. In Gunnison Brad White won the sprint, gained 3 seconds and was followed by Jay Thompson.

A side note about Crested Butte, at the end of July Lance Armstrong showed up to ride the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey, a qualifying race for the Leadville 100, and he won the race. Of course he did not go on to ride in Leadville this year.

On a humorous note, the two commentators on the Shack Tracker coverage are British, so if you squint your eyes as you watch you could forget and think you were watching the TdF. This is the US Pro Cycling Challenge! Where are the American commentators?! And the debates over the pronunciation of Salida and Buena Vista are hysterical. We know they have a Spanish origin, but Americans like to butcher pronunciations of foreign words. Its like our hobby. I grew up near a town pronounced "Vur-sales" and spelled "Versailles." Why no debate about "Crested Butte?" They could speculate Native Americans called it "Creested Butt."

Outside Gunnison the storm clouds chased the riders and pushed them toward town. North of town the peloton began chasing down the two leaders as the riders climbed up toward Creested Butt. The field and angry looking skies converged on the ski town as the two leaders kept their diminishing lead.

At 20 miles to go the peloton had reduced the lead of the breakaway brothers from the four minute neighborhood to knocking at the door at 1:15. The terrain steepened and the race started to get interesting.

With 15 miles to go the Creested Butt itself came into view in all its glory. White and Thompson had started to lag, looking tired, but still cranking away. They were maintaining a 1:15 lead as the roads carried them up toward the finish.

And then with 10 miles to go the gap between the chased and the field was only 45 seconds! And at 9.4 miles 0:35!!!

Gretsch, wearing the yellow jersey, fought to hang on as the peloton screamed up to Creested Butt.

8.8 miles to go and the gap shrinks to 25 seconds!

The peloton started to roil with activity. The teams were making their plays as the finish line drew closer.

White and Thompson were swallowed by the peloton around 8 miles out. The sprint at Creested Butt loomed. Who would take the sprint? Chewing nails to nubs! Grinding teeth in anticipation! Arg!!! The agony!!! MUST! TAKE! UP! GOLF!

At 6.3 miles a horseback rider in a field off to the east paced the peloton reminiscent of the scene in American Flyers just before we see the pale behind of Kevin Costner.

With less than 4 miles to go the peloton mass entered Creested Butt proper to pathetically thin crowds. Juraj Sagan wins the sprint and the battle for the stage begins!

Less than 2 miles and a Garmin rider takes the lead!

The spectators are still painfully absent as the riders struggle for glory in the thin air of the Rockies!

With a mile and a half to go American Tom Danielson takes second! Gretsch hangs on to fourth place for a bit.

Gretsch moves to third followed close by Schlecks, Leiphiemer. Andy slings into first with a huge gap and a mile to go!

Pate, Schleck and a third rider fight for first!

Pate falls, Frank moves up and so does Cadel in third! The crowds appear thronging the finish, finally, the sponsors may recoup...

Levi screams away...and never looks back

"Levi Leipheimer has cracked the stage!"

Winner of Stage 1, Salida to Crested Butte is Levi Leipheimer of Team Radio Shack.

Monday, August 22

USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Prologue (Colorado Springs)

Okay, my coverage of the big bike race in Colorado is going to be short and sweet. I wasn't there and I basically saw what anyone else can see on TV or the web.

If you want to catch the race as its happening you can visit the Shack Tracker.

The prologue took place in Colorado Springs today. It started at Garden of the Gods, a true geologic icon of Colorado, and finished in town just over five miles away and a couple hundred feet lower in elevation.

Patrick Gretsch of Germany, representing HTC-Highroad, won the prologue with a time of 8:27 (min/sec).

Here's the top ten:

1.Patrick Gretsch (Ger)

2.Christian Vande Velde (USA)

3.Brent Bookwalter (USA)

4.Robert Förster (Ger)

5.Jens Voigt (Ger)

6.George Hincapie (USA)

7.Levi Leipheimer (USA)

8.Tejay Van Garderen (USA)

9.Cadel Evans (Aus)

10.Ryan Roth (Can)

I'm rooting for Hincapie, always liked him. I don't have a favorite team. I think the corporate sponsorships have gone way too far.

Tomorrow is Stage 1: Salida to Crested Butte, over the Sawatch Range at Monarch Pass and ending at Mount Crested Butte, 99.3 miles.

Who Are the People You Will Meet in Biketopia?

I don't want to get all Mr. Rogers on you Dear Reader, but I had an encounter this morning that made me ponder: who are the people that you'll meet in Biketopia? Maybe that's a Sesame Street reference. Darn random unpredictable public programming so unlike that of my youth!!!

Who are the people you'll meet in Biketopia? I can list off a huge number of license plates of people you will not meet in Biketopia, but its much harder to glance at someone and say definitively that they will have a home in Biketopia...unless of course they are riding a homemade recumbent bike with electric assist.

Meet Chris. He works at NREL (pronounced suspiciously like "ENRON") and rides his franken-beast of a bike 23 miles one way from up north.

We met as he blasted past me coming off the Clear Creek Trail onto the frontage road. At first I only noticed a BSO in my periphery, but it was soon apparent that it was something more.

Now, let me give you a brief background of my brain-workings these days. I know its rude to drop fellow commuters, but I decided if I'm going to ride Leadville, if I'm shooting for sub-9 hours, if I may dabble in mountain bike racing, I need to be the fastest thing on two wheels between Arvada and Golden. So I decided I needed some rabbits, and not the runny babbits Bean and I see on our commutes. Enter my fellow commuters.

Anyway, I immediately recognized the frankenbike as a homemade job but I didn't see the battery or the rear hub before the bike moved over in front of me and blocked my view. So I applied force to my pedals and gave chase. And the homemade recumbent continued to pull away from me.

He coasted down the incline to the stop sign and I pedaled harder. No gain. We started up the incline toward 32nd and I grunted my defiance into the clear morning air and renewed my efforts, ravaging the pedals and bearing down on destiny. The 'bent cyclist cruised up the hill at an easy cadence, ever increasing the gap between us.

HEY! I thought, He must have an electric assist motor! But I continued to pedal, pedal, pedal until he was out of sight. The same thing had happened to me once before as an apparent octogenarian rocketed past me on a mountain bike as I climbed a short hill on the way home one day. I wasn't poking that day either.

At the traffic light at 32nd I caught the mad doctor. As I pulled up beside him he said, "You're a climbing machine!"

I barked: "HA!" and told him he was a beast, but immediately asked if he had electric assist. As the light turned and we crossed 32nd he chatted freely about his build. The bike is homemade, aluminum stock with an exterior battery. He has a charger in his cubicle. He rides about three days a week, only when the weather is good and he only rides the homemade contraption. It has front and rear suspension from a mountain bike and a hardshell cargo case behind the seat. He's also wired up twin LED headlights in mounts which run off of the battery. There is 5,000+ miles on the bike. I wish I had gotten a photo.

When I implored him to go on and not wait for me (I felt I was slowing him down) he said, "Why, so I can get to work sooner?" We both agreed it was better to enjoy the fine weather on the way in than to stress about getting there as soon as possible.

He admitted it was more fun to "chase" a roadie on his electric powered wonder-bike than to outright pass them and tempt them to keep up. In one instance he had a roadie try to leave him for miles, checking over his shoulder, pedaling harder, but never able to drop the advantaged recumbent.

Anyway, I have always been leery of electric assist bikes, and while I don't see myself getting one anytime soon I will concede they fill an important niche in cycling. Confronted with a 23 mile commute (one way) year round I doubt I could muster the muster to do it even as often as every nice day. But with a little help in the form of electric assist I can see the expanded possibilities.

An electric assist bike might be a fun future project.

And then THIS is an awesome idea, but maybe a little challenging for my limited engineering abilities...

Sunday, August 21

Adventure Racing/Riding

Ride the Divide is an inspiring movie. It follows the riders of the 2008 Tour Divide. The Tour Divide is a 2,700+ mile mountain bike race. It's hard to call it a race. More accurately it is a individual time trial (ITT). There is a mass start, but each rider is self sufficient and you can basically do the ride/race anytime.

After watching the movie last year I wanted to do the Tour Divide. But of course, having the time to prepare and the time to step out of my working and family life isn't an easy thing to wrangle. I'm not saying it will never happen, but now while the kids are young is not the most appropriate time.

Enter the Colorado Trail Race. Like the Tour Divide, the Colorado Trail Race has no entry fee, no support, no registration, and no prize money. The difference is the CTR follows the 470 mile Colorado Trail and is significantly less impactive to the lifestyle of a father and husband. The timeframe is still 2 to 3 weeks, but that is within striking distance where the 2 to 3 months required for the TD is still a long way off for me.

Leadville is going to command my cycling attention until next year. Maybe if Leadville goes really well the CTR would be feasible in 2013 or '14?

It's all fantasizing unless the opportunities come together, but if you don't consider and plan in the back of your mind the opportunities will come and go too fast to grab ahold.

Saturday, August 20

Test Ride: Kona Kahuna

We took the whole tribe to Golden this morning to the farmers' market and the bike swap at Pedal Pushers. The FM was awesome. We had some phenomenal wood-fired pizza for lunch and then rolled across town to check out the bike swap.

PPC is a Kona dealer, and they just happened to have a 2011 Kahuna. This bike:

I took it for a spin around the shop. I'm in love. It's a good thing you can't marry a bicycle.



Rock Shox XC 32 TK (whatever that means, felt pretty good though)

Hydraulic disc brakes (Avid Elixir 1)

A lot of SRAM stuff

Might not be the bike I go with, but this is the path I'm going down.

Cool bike though. Felt speedy. Felt expensive.

Friday, August 19

The Early Return of Ramming Speed Friday

35 minutes. I blasted the commute home.

I know what I said. The shoulder, while not healed, is much improved. I was as surprised as you Dear Reader.

For my first three month goal in training for Leadville I have stated "No Mountain Biking." The urge is there. The temptation grows. I must resist!

But a fast ride home...where is the harm in that?

Got to make up some mileage. With only my commutes I'll be struggling to break 400 miles in August. July was my lightest month in 2011 because of my stupid crash.

We're going to the velo swap at Pedal Pushers tomorrow. See you there!

Energy Challenge

"The jet plane that roars overhead costs three quarters of a million dollars. That’s more than a man will make in his lifetime. What world can afford this kind of thing for long?" -Dwight Eisenhower, in 1959

Fossil fuels represent a huge repository of stored energy. However, fossil fuels are finite. How do I know this? I do believe fossil fuels can be generated much faster than our textbooks tell us, but I do not think there is an infinite supply or that we can replenish the supply fast enough to keep up with demand?

Why do I believe this? Simple, the source material for fossil fuels come from living things. On planet earth there is a finite supply of living material. There is no way you can have an infinite supply of something that comes from a finite source point. The idea that you can contradicts science and nature.

So let's concede (only for the sake of argument if you're not comfortable otherwise) that we can replenish our stores of fossil fuels to make more carbon-based energy. Why can't that be a solution to our current energy problems? Again, a simple answer: entropy.

In the past geology and climate have supplied sufficient pressure from potential energy to create the gargantuan stores of energy we've been tapping for the past few centuries.. Man does not have the energy sources, comparable to natural energy sources, to transform sufficient amounts of material to supply our current growing energy needs. Matter (and energy) can be neither created nor destroyed. Thermodynamics. Pretty simple to understand.

Living energy is different. I can use simple tools (levers, wheels, mechanical advantage) in conjunction with energy supplied by my muscles through the metabolic process to do many things. Metabolism is still not an infinite source of energy, but as long as I have food (fuel provided by things growing under the sun) I can do work. At a human scale I can continue throughout my lifetime to do work and apply energy.

The crux of the matter is that we've exceeded human scale. In a global context, as nations, as communities and even in our personal lives. The simple act of driving a car represents an immense amount of stored energy being converted that cannot be easily substituted with human scaled power.

So here is my challenge to you: each time you have to make a decision between human power and energy drawn from stored fossil fuels, choose human power.

If you can do something by hand or using electricity, do it by hand. Elevator or stairs? Stairs. Car or bike? Bike. Mixer or spoon. Spoon. Call your neighbor or walk down the street? Walk down the street.

Write a letter or send an email? Tough one. A letter will be transported by fossil fuel burners, an email typically uses coal powered electricity. Maybe your area uses hydro or solar or wind power. Better yet to go visit the person by bike and have a face to face conversation.

A good discussion would be the quality products of human powered production versus those that require lots of stored energy.

One step closer to biketopia.

Wednesday, August 17

Finding the Path

Okay, I've finally come to terms with the truth...I'm a closet mountain biker.

It shouldn't really be a shock. I love the outdoors, I love covering a lot of ground as I explore and I love bikes. I like endurance sports. I ran cross country in 8th and 9th grade. My favorite cycling films are Ride the Divide and the two Race Across the Sky films.

It took a awhile for me to realize this truth about myself. I think the main reason is circumstance. Kentucky didn't have a lot of developed mountain biking when we lived there. Of course that's changing. But there were no trails for biking in the Red River Gorge area. The best I could do was rough four wheeling roads in the oil fields.

The weekend after the MTB version of the Cannonball made the truck ride west to Colorado I pedaled up Evergreen Mountain. My mountain bike climbed a mountain.

Since then I've dabbled, but the lack of obsession on my part was less a lack of desire and more an abundance of responsibility. I don't begrudge being an adult, it just doesn't leave as much time for play.

The Leadville 100 isn't really mountain biking. There's not really any singletrack. And that's good because my experience on singletrack is lacking.

But I'm really getting the singletrack bug. I'm beginning to see that it really jives with my proprioceptive needs.

And in the past few years I've suffered more after long hikes. No matter what kind of shape I'm in I just hurt more after any hike over five miles. I've punished myself too much over the years. But on the bike I don't suffer so much from the aches and pains of hiking.

Now if I can just keep from crashing...

Sunday, August 14

Boomtown Bike Ride

Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription...is more cowbell!

--the Bruce Dickenson

Oh, I've got a fever!

Leadville was awesome. We would move there if it were feasible (i.e. job, money, etc.). We had a great time camping and other than one member of the family having some altitude related discomfort we had a great 20+ mile bike ride from camp over to town and around the Mineral Belt Trail on Friday.

For the race on Saturday we were assigned to traffic control at the intersection of County Roads 9 and 9D (just south of Leadville Junction). We were there at 6am and right on time a snaking line of mountain bikers came down the hill following a police escort.

As they passed en mass, shoulder to shoulder, completely taking the lane(s) the buzz of hundreds of knobby tires on the asphalt was like a swarm of angry bees. And once they really got going the wind generated by the mass of bodies moving past at 20-30 miles an hour was incredible. It was an amazing experience.

After the racers had all passed we were off duty until noon, so we headed into town to grab some breakfast and then went back to camp and packed up our stuff so we could leave straight away after we were done with traffic control.

We were the third control point from the beginning, so we were also one of the last, and latest, points on the route. We were out there from 11:00am (didn't have to be there til noon, but had nothing else to do) until almost 7 o'clock. It was a blast, and other than the fact that we were sunburned, tired and thirsty and that the kids were just worn out by 6pm, it was an experience hard to describe. The first few dozen riders were the pros and they were on a mission. But then after that we started seeing Average Joe and Average Jane (reportedly 271 Janes this year) and many called out thanks as they pedaled past.

I saw two of the people featured in Race Across the Sky 2010, the Denver firefighter who has ridden every year since the race began (can't remember his name), and Gracie Ragland, a woman in the 50-59 category who has MS (I think), and she finished at 12:11 which is just phenomenal.

We hung out with a 72 year old gentleman named Jerry. His son has raced 12 years but had to sit this year out due to a broken clavicle. Jerry was waiting to see his friend, 64 year old William (Bill) "Doc" Wenmark, who has ridden the race the past 14 years.

The countdown has begun. In less than a year I'll be sitting at the start line in the pre-dawn cold, heart aflutter with anticipation and 100 miles of hard riding ahead. But I have almost a year to get ready and I have faith that I will be able to pull it off with the support of my family and friends. It's going to be a fun ride just getting there.

Of course, as with most of the Average Joes out there I am at the mercy of the lottery, but I have a few hours of volunteering under my buckle-less belt to give me a little preference (but not a guarantee) when I register in a few short months.

I promised not to go on about Leadville back when I first mentioned it here at the Pavement's Edge, but get ready Dear Readers, I'll be ramping up on my Leadville themed pontifications.

To begin, I have a three month goal of getting my diet on track and getting my shoulder completely healed. By then winter will be looming and I won't be able to do a lot of bike-specific training. That's why Mandy and I are going to be doing a lot of "100" oriented fitness training. She's agreed to work with me on my goal to do 100 pushups, 100 pullups, 100 situps, etc, etc. My secret goal is that by the time the race comes around I want her to regret not doing it with me. I will convert her over to the dark side.

My ultimate goal is to get a buckle. I won't be able to beat Lance, or Dave Weins, but I will finish in less than 12 hours and I'm gonna try my darnedest to finish less than 9.


I forgot to mention one other thing concerning the popularity of the race that I have qualms with. I noticed after only a short while that this year's race jersies had "Lifetime" in huge lettering across the front and back and "Leadville Trail 100 MTB" in miniscule lettering. Ken Chlouber, one of the founders of the race series, recently sold the series to a Minnesota company called Lifetime Fitness.


Thursday, August 11

Leadville or Bust

We're leaving for Leadville today. We'll be volunteering at the Leadville Trail 100 (Leadville 100) on Saturday. And so officially begins a year of preparing for my own attempt at the 100 mile mountain bike race in 2012.

We're taking the bikes and we're all excited about the prospect of riding around the mountain town and mingling with the bike culture melting pot that is sure to descend on Leadville in the next 48 hours.

The Leadville Trail 100 was established in 1983 as an ultramarathon (running race) and in 1994 the LeadvilleTrail 100 MTB race was added. The bike race has been featured in at least two films, Race Across the Sky and Race Across the Sky 2010.

The MTB race begins downtown in Leadville and then heads west around Turquoise Lake, over the powerlines and then across the plains to a heinous climb up to Columbine Mine with a total elevation gain of about 14,000'. Columbine Mine is the halfway point and the high point of the course. In 2009 Lance Armstrong beat the long time champoin Dave Weins and set the course record. He didn't return in 2010 due to an injury and Levi Leipheimer broke Armstrong's record to take first place.

Lance just recently qualified for this year's race by winning the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey.

Regardless of who shows and who doesn't, it promises to be an interesting race.

Tuesday, August 9

Searching for Biketopia

I don't know if its a general malaise, or my injury, or just a down cycle, but I haven't had a great desire to pontificate on things bicycling.

And my mind has been directed at other things for a few weeks. I'm working out my political beliefs and finding some surprising things. I've also been thinking deep thoughts about a future path for me and my family. I'm not saying I'm going to make a drastic career change, but I'm not saying its not a possibility. Though like all change in my life, it might be drastic, but it will move with geologic patience.

I worry that I am too negative here at times as well, so I have been trying to make an attempt to be more positive. I don't want to tear down, but to build up. And I find sometimes that I just don't have anything good to say, or that it's already been said.

This morning as I portaged Bean to the babysitter on the Ute I had an epiphany. We cyclists all dream of biketopia, and I guess ultimately all of my ramblings are sort of centered around either the search for biketopia or bemoaning the cyclo-dystopia we seem to live in.

In that perspective it is easy to see that a good cycling blog would exhibit the aspects of our modern world that are moving us toward biketopia and to shed light on those dark places that need to be seen more clearly. And as is often the case with someone with an unanchored attention span: I have decided to realign my purpose here along the Pavement's Edge.

We're going on a journey to find Biketopia.

A recent side project (conceived in abject boredom) is a kmz file of all of the crashes on my bike(s) I can remember I've had. You'll need to have Google Earth on your computer to view it. HERE is it.

The road to Biketopia

Sunday, August 7

Vintage Realization

Cyclists approaching Vail Pass, Copper Triangle 2011

We worked Aid Station 3 of the Copper Triangle yesterday. Well, I kept the kids occupied while Mandy worked the station.

Its always amazing to me that seemingly unfit people do well on those type rides while those who are obviously "in shape" fail miserably. I know it has less to do with outward appearances and more to do with how well the riders have prepared, but its still surprising when you see the range of abilities and how people defy your perceptions so soundly.

The riders are so gracious to the aid station volunteers. I remember feeling very grateful that all of those people along the triple Bypass gave up their time to give all of the participants doing the "fun" part a great experience. If does feel pretty good to help out, but for someone as inherently antisocial as myself it seems counter-intuitive.

Lily helping out

Speaking of counter-intuitive, being around all of those shiny road bikes made me realize I just want an old school 10 or 12 speed bike. Yeah, I want an old steel frame bike with the shift levers on the downtube.

I think I really want just a simple road bike that will hold up to thousands upon thousands of miles. As much as I hate to say it, the simplicity of a fixed gear bike has been appealing to me for a few months now.

Why do I need another bike, you might ask? I don't.

Friday, August 5

Ramming Speed Friday: Suspended Until Further Notice

No RSF until I'm fully healed. Can't take a chance you know...

A co-worker suggested I ride in the US Pro Cycling Challenge in a few weeks. This was after I stated that only "pro cyclists" will be participating. Okay. I'm game.

Having said that, some big name cyclists will be riding along portions of my commute. I think I'll shoot an email out to Cadel Evans and the Schleck Bros to watch out for slick railroad tracks.

But this begs the questions: where am I going to set up for the best photos? Still pondering that one.

I'm rambling because its after 5pm on a Friday and I am feeling the adage: too much work, not enough commute. I pray no one else comes in today. I will not be held hostage to the whims of an inconsiderate person.

Speaking of work, I had an epiphany that will result in a fine bike garage at the ole homestead. More to come on that.

Thursday, August 4

Recalibrate and Move Forward

It's been an odd summer. Back in the spring we were going strong as a car-lite, cyclo-centric family. We rode, rode, rode everywhere. We shunned poor Forester Gump and played favorites with Kona Lisa and the Cannonball X.

And June came and went. The kids were visiting the ones who spoil them and Mandy and I just rode. It was nice. We rode a lot. But it was just us, no kids and it was easy.

Then July the kids were back, but school was out and the air was hot. No one wanted to go anywhere. My car-lite family mostly stayed home in the cool shaded inside or played out in the hot yard. There was still very little driving going on.

And then I crashed my bike and wrecked my shoulder. Riding was not an option the first few days and then even after I felt good enough to go back to riding the rational, responsible part of my mind that had been woken up by the injury kept urging caution and patience. Smug anthropomorphic entity who's parents were not married!

I drove all last week because my car-lite family didn't need the car. But this week they did. And school is starting soon and they'll need it then for some of their trips. I couldn't carpool last week because I had to be in early and none of my co-workers were driving in early enough.

I rode Monday to mixed reviews and opted for a ride (motor vehicular) from a co-worker the rest of the week since my schedule this month begins later in the morning. Each day my shoulder has steadily improved until yesterday I forgot I had an injury. But only because I didn't raise my arm over my head until late in the day...

I was going to bike in today, but I forgot to tell my ride so I just met up this morning and was chauffeured. But I told her that tomorrow I ride. I'm certain.

I was pondering this morning those car-free families; those who do not even own a single car. If either parent were to be injured in the same manner as I was two weeks ago how would they cope? They obviously couldn't fall back on the car. They obviously couldn't shuttle with the lone car. Mass transit? Wouldn't work for me. The routes are too convoluted. It would almost be quicker to walk the 10 miles.

And following that train of thought I decided if I can drive a car (which I obviously can) then I can ride my bike. I may need to ramp up the cautionary behavior to prevent further injury. But I can do it. So I will.

A spring grocery run

And in the spirit of ramping up, I think my family needs to get back on the car-lite wagon with a vengeance.

Upcoming projects:

We're going to build a shed to house our bike fleet. It's time.

I'm going to fashion a fork mount for Boone's bike to attach to the rear of the Xtracycle and also on the rear of the newly converted cargo trailer.

Bean is going to learn to ride her bike (again).

Fall bikepacking trip. Plan. Execute. Report.

Wednesday, August 3

An Answer

I emailed a fellow that works for the City of Golden and explained my concerns about the railroad crossing on 10th/44th where I crashed just over two weeks ago. He responded promptly, and while it was heartening to discover he also commutes by bike from Golden to Arvada, I was disappointed by his answer.

I won't go into a point by point analysis, but here is the gist of the letdown:

In my 10 years of riding over those tracks, I simply wait for my gap in eastbound traffic, cross the rails at a right angle, and continue on my way. To wait for my gap I will stop on the west side, in the bike lane, then proceed when it is clear so that I don’t have to remount on the east side of the tracks in the traffic lane.

In other words: there will never be an improvement to that crossing.

It's just not feasible to stop the bike and wait for a break in traffic. In the afternoons (and often in the mornings) there can be a long string of traffic, especially if the train has just passed through. And of course motorists make an effort to beat cyclists to the crossing so they don't have to be behind them on the narrow roadway to the east. It's rare to have a motorist slow down and give me room as I go across the steeply-angled-tracks-of-doom.

Because of the configuration a cyclist not only has to wait for a break in traffic going in the same direction, but also for a corresponding break in opposing traffic because to cross safely on a bike requires skirting the yellow line.

I'm not going to discount the guy's solution because he claims to have been riding there for 10 years, but I just don't see his method as a viable solution for the mass of riders that cross the tracks along 44th.

My solution will have to be to avoid the crossing, which increases my mileage and travel time. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect an overnight solution, but I was hoping for some avenue to dialogue. Oh well...

But not "oh well." I'm not going to give up.

Monday, August 1

Return to the Scene of the Crash and Xtracycle Proselytizing

Proselytizing? We'll get to that in a moment.

I rode home on 10th/44th today. I could say that you should always confront your fears. I could say that. I'd be hypocritical if I did. Often I avoid the things I fear instead of dealing with them.

Today I let my subconscious guide me back along my standard home commute from Golden. And once I realized where I was going I decided I'd see if it is possible to cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle. See, I emailed the Deputy Director of Public Works for the City of Golden this afternoon and explained why I think that particular intersection of bike lane, road and rail is not the least bit safe for cyclists and is potentially a hazard for motorists that have to interact with cyclists there.

Thankfully no cars were around as I approached the crossing and made my attempt to cross at a perfect 90 degree angle. I slowed considerably and crossed as close to 90 degrees as possible. Even then I ended up on the yellow line and was a few degrees from perfect.

I DID NOT crash.

So I pedaled on home, none the wiser really. I learned nothing I hadn't already speculated with almost complete certainty.

As I approached the intersection of Ridge Road and Independence I saw another cyclist coming up Independence from the south. I turned north and continued on. As I turned onto my street I heard someone calling out and glanced over my shoulder to see the cyclist pedaling madly to catch up with me.

"I gotta know! What is that thing?"

I stopped and chatted with Robert, from Oklahoma City, for half an hour or so. I gave him the "under-the-hood" tour of the Xtracycle and he marveled over it. Turns out he's passing through town on his way to the Pacific Northwest for a vacation and was out riding around checking out the neighborhood. He's staying in a hotel down off I-70.

I gave him one of my old maps of the area and showed him how to find the Clear Creek Trail and explained how to get to Golden and back to his hotel.

Then we talked about the Xtracycle a little more and I think he's sold. I should be a rep. If I got a commission...

Anyway, I'm glad I got back on the bike. My ride home was much better than the ride to work this morning. There was very little pain this evening and I am confident I can keep riding. I might let myself rest this week. I do have a ride after all.

On Monday next I go in for my first physical therapy session. We'll see how things go.

Too cool to have made another Xtracycle convert just by riding home from work.

On the Wheel

It was good to be back on the bike this morning. I've been off for almost two weeks and I was suppressing my anxiousness to be back on a wheel.

I may be back too soon. During the ride I felt absolutely no pain. Bumps, jars, and the normal movement of riding was fine. But when I dismounted the bike at work the pain flared up in my shoulder as I let it hang at my side. So while I felt no pain while riding I don't think I can honestly say the ride caused me no pain.

I'm going to call today to see about physical therapy and we'll go from there. I at least know riding to and from work is possible. I'm just not sure if its expedient and healthy. I want to come back from this injury stronger than before. I want to go into winter in great shape facing the weather with certain resolve. It's going to take some work, I know.

Leadville is coming up. I'm going to volunteer no mater what my injury status is. I should be able to function there even in the sling. I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a lot of fun. I'll take lots of photos as well.

I've wanted to blog about the so-called "debt crisis" since before I wrecked my shoulder, but until the past few days I just haven't felt like sitting down and hashing it out. I have been reading Thoreau's Civil Disobedience which may not be a good idea. It's got me thinking more and more about politics and economics. And of course I have my moments when I fantasize about a bicycle friendly post-apocalyptic world. I know, I know...not getting my hopes too high on that one.

Resilience in always in the front of my mind. I never stop thinking about what I need to do to be prepared. Of course mentally asserting preparedness and actually being prepared are two different things.