Wednesday, November 30

Monthly Mileage Update: One Month til 5,000!

November: 382

2011 so far: 4,856

Monthly average for 11 months: 441

Miles to go to 5,000: 144

Haters: Suck on that!

Well, I don't guess I really have any haters...but y'know, just in case.

I'll return with a proper post soon. I've got a few brewing. The "Psychology of" series is coming along, as well as a few other ideas.

Stay tuned true believers!

Tuesday, November 29

Year of the Longtails: A Cannonball Xmas

The Cannonball Xmas has fans where I work. They gush over my bike now that I have it decorated with Christmas lights and jingle bells. The jingle bells are good for clearing pedestrians along the multiuse paths. The lights make me more visible in low-light commutes.

Tis the season? As I pass over the land I carry with me the sensory experience of Christmas. Auditory...visual...and come Thursday some tactile input courtesy of an arctic air mass and possibly snow. Yeah.

I passed a kid today who would have fit right in on the set of A Christmas Story. She stared through her Ralphie glasses in awe at the Cannonball Xmas' glory. I got a few long stares as I pedaled to and fro today.

Y'know, I think I could mount a mini-Christmas tree on the FlightDeck.

Anyway, it's just a few short weeks until Christmas. I'm torn about this holiday. It's not a religious thing for me. And I know all that's left is the worship of consumerism. If not for my kids I would probably just stop observing it at all. But then, what am I teaching my kids? Maybe we can start to use this season to teach them a better way to view their roles in society.

In other news, I have assurances that my Slipnot Traction System is on its way. I just don't know if it'll hit the Pavement's Edge Bikeport before the snow flies later in the week. For my snow and ice traversing needs this coming winter I will be using a combination of the STS and soon to be homemade studded tires. I need to get the stuff together for my DIY studs and get it going. I just need some screws. I've got everything else I need. Oh, and some snow and ice to test it all out on.

Let it snow! Here's a bit of wisdom I'd like to share:
If I was in charge, we'd never see grass between October and May.

Also, I won (along with others) the Blackburn Designs Stay Seen, Stay Safe sweepstakes on Facebook. I gotta say, I love me some bike lights. You can never have enough. And the first set of lights I ever bought were Blackburns. First Klean Kanteen's Freebie Friday, and now Blackburn's Stay Seen, Stay Safe. Hopefully GoPro's Everything We Make sweepstakes is next!

Oh, and don't forget Kona Lisa:

Monday, November 28

The Psychology of Long Rides


This post is the first in a three part series on "psychology." I will also be covering the Psychology of Climbing and the Psychology of the Descent. Way back in 1992 when I first enrolled in college I declared my major as "psychology" (my eventual degree was in Geography with a dual specialization in Urban & Regional Planning and GIS). Therefore I am almost completely and totally unqualified to write on the subject. Enjoy!


Some biked miles are enjoyable. The sun is on your face, the wind is in your hair, your bike feels light as the ether...biketopia. Some miles make you want to ride forever.


But then after you've been pedaling a few dozen miles toward forever you begin to enter cycling hell. Your hands tingle and spasm. Your feet are numb and cold. You rear-end aches and your back and neck are stiff. The bike is hard and every bump in the road jars your teeth. Those miles are misery, suffering...mental anguish.

Many cyclists never reach their true threshold while riding. Most people never suffer to their fullest potential. And yet the threshold is there, the potential awaits and The Wall that you can hit lurks in the mist ahead.

Long bike rides, those going beyond what a person is used to riding on any given day, are similar to long runs, long hikes, long swims...all those endurance activities that begin to require greater resolve to push through. For some a long bike ride could be 20 miles. I remember the first time my wife rode more than 20 miles in one push. It was an important milestone. I can remember the first time I rode more than 30 miles in a day. For the kids a 10 mile ride under their own power is a big deal. And though I've ridden greater distances these days my magic number seems to be somewhere past 50. Hopefully by next August it will be somewhere past 100.

Deciding to ride the Triple Bypass in 2009 pushed me into longer and longer rides. I did a fifty miler before work one morning. I pushed my training rides beyond 50, beyond 60, beyond 75...on up to 80 miles the weekend before the ride. The TBP itself was 120 miles. I remember watching my cyclocomputer click over from 99.9 to 100. And I almost crashed because when it did I was bombing down the west side of Vail Pass on a curvy, wet multiuse path.

Me, in Avon, Colorado

However, my long distance disposition didn't begin with cycling. As a teenager I ran cross country. The fall of my 8th grade year I signed up for the Springboro Junior High CC team. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never really considered myself a runner. I knew that the other team sports were not my cup of tea and I wanted to do something. Actually, I can't really remember why I signed up.

Well, I found my athletic home. I ran two years and only stopped because my family moved back to Kentucky and the school there didn't have a cross country team. I tried track, but the coach had me running the mile, and the pace was too fast. Cross country was the forge where I began to be beaten into the fine athlete you see before you today. Our very first junior high meet changed my perception of what a human being could endure.

It was a cold day. We stood at the starting line wearing our thin running clothes under heavy sweatpants and sweatshirts. I watched in amazement as our competitors stripped down just before the race. Reluctantly my novice teammates and I did the same. Youthful bravado kept me from complaining at the bitter cold that was settling into my bones in the minutes leading up to the start. Then, just before the race began the sky began to spit snow. I laughed out loud, but my mind was being forever reformed to revel in that sort of adversity. I would grow to seek it out as I got older.

I ran two years of cross country and won a varsity letter my freshman year. My coach taught me to hold nothing back, but at the end of the race to find the reserves to kick hard and sprint the last hundred yards or two. I still revel the "kick." And while I didn't continue in organized competitive running I did keep running as a part of my life well into my 30s...sort of.

I became an obsessive hiker after high school. My hiking exploits reached their pinnacle on a backpacking trip to the Smokies over Christmas break one year. I went with a friend, in fact the trip was his idea, and I ended up hiking twenty eight miles in a twenty four hour period. The last seven miles were miserable. My legs were wasted, but somehow I kept walking, in the dark, in the cold, all the way back to the trailhead. We stopped for pizza in Gatlinburg. I almost had to crawl from the truck to the restaurant.

Cycling has followed a similar pattern in my life. Different activity, same approaches, same mindset...

One strategy I've employed through the years was to rough out a route in my mind and just go for it. Don't plot the exact mileage or elevation gain, don't over think it, just go. Take enough stuff to remain self-sufficient and just make it work. Those are the rides that sharpen the soul, those that reset the psyche and allow you to build yourself back up from being completely beaten down to your constituent parts. It takes an experienced mind to approach endurance rides in this manner. You have to be 100% confident in your own abilities. You have to be 100% confident in your Jedi mind control. Giving up and calling a friend to come bail you out cannot be an option. And ages ago before cell phones I made some rides and hikes that were big on consequence like that. Getting hailed on is one of those cycling rites of passage you never forget.

My other, more normal, plan is to map the route, know the mileage, know the total elevation and the crux climbs along the way. I try to note potential resupply points, public restrooms, alternate routes in case of a need to bail, etc, etc. I find that these sorts of rides become those that are less likely to succeed because they are even less likely to happen. But my confidence levels swell and I also find that what seems to be near my limits in the planning stages is usually far less overwhelming once I get out on the road or trail.

Either way, you suffer long when you've got a lot of miles behind you. You can go out to the edge of what's possible, hold nothing back, face down your demons and then head back. And the ride home is the pursuit of relief, the quest from pain, the escape of all that dogs you on the bike.

Distance alone is a trial. Distance cominbed with cold, rain or wind can truly test your mental grit. And for that reason alone you should go out on your bike and chase those limits.

Along the Dirty Bismarck

You can find suffering on the bike, and if you can deal with the suffering you can find a state of mind that will help you to get through all kinds of adversity. When I really started pushing what I believed was possible on the bike back in the late 90s I found my mind was better suited to deal with challenging rock climbs. I recognized that if I could ride 40-50 miles on the bike and suffer through the discomfort that activity provided then I could probably wrassle an 80 foot finger crack into submission with much less effort and mental strain. And I was right.

Somewhere in the Kentucky River Valley

Of course trying to forge a resistance to adversity on the bike is a cheat. Right? Because the bike supports you well beyond the limits of your own flesh and bone frame. Steve Johnson (pro cyclist) said:

"Cycling is unique. No other sport lets you go like that - where there's only the bike left to hold you up. If you ran as hard, you'd fall over. Your legs wouldn't support you."

She met the man with the hammer

But physical trials aside I have my own personal demons I fight. Sometimes the long ride is the escape from the demons, sometimes the ride is the battle, and other times I find demons along the way. But on the far side of a long, hard ride you find yourself a bit stronger of mind and leg and it just feels good.

Sunday, November 27

Random Sunday Afternoon Post

It's been five full days since I've biked. Sounds like the beginning of a 12 step program introduction, doesn't it?

While my folks were in I didn't ride. I was okay with that. I've realized taking the rest when you get the opportunities is not a bad thing. But the rest can be a hard break in your path that's hard to breach.

I realize this morning that I need to get back in the mindset of riding everywhere. I need to get my cold weather things in an easy-to-get-to place. We were in the midst of breakfast preparation this morning and realized we only had two eggs. Gasp! Then I drove to the store. I drove, not because it was cold, not because it was too much trouble, not because we were in a hurry to get the eggs, but because I had no point of beginning to move toward riding the bike. My brain wasn't set to default to riding. It wasn't because my parents had been in all week, no, but because over the past few weeks I've moved away from choosing the bike over the car.

Winter is knocking on the door. I've got to steel my resolve and hit the bike pedals over the gas pedal unless there is no other option. Otherwise I'm going to get lazy and forget what's important to me.

Hopefully you won't hear this much more from me over the coming months, but I MUST get control of my diet. Thanksgiving is over. The insanity has got to stop. I've got to start making better choices. For me. For my family. For Leadville.

Monday is back to the grind. I'm looking forward to a return to routine, if not a return to the specific grind in a certain cubicle. Christmas lights and tree are up, bikes are properly illumined for the consumer season and I'm getting ready to change the oil in the ole Gump.

I took my parents up in the mountains on Wednesday. I've been jonesing to get up there and do some peak bagging every since. I have some ideas for this coming summer too, especially if the kids end up visiting their grandparents for a month again. Grays and Torreys in the same format as my Guanella Pass tour this past summer...wouldn't that be an adventure!

If I had more time off...we'd spend so much more time on the road...on the wheel.

Oh...and I'm only 13 pageviews away from 10,000. Whoo hoo!

Friday, November 25

In the News: Cannonball X

Late today I noticed the mail had been delivered. As I pulled out the single piece of mail I was excited to see it was the latest edition of Mother Earth News.

As we sat down to dinner I flipped through the pages. And then I stopped cold. I saw a photo of a bike that looked like the Cannonball X. In fact, it looked like one of my photos of my bike. And the letter beside it had my name after name!!!

Then I remembered I'd emailed MEN after reading the article "What the Right Bike Can Do For You" in the June/July issue. And then we noticed Boone's bike was in the picture too.

It was pretty cool to see a photo of the Cannonball X. If you get a chance, check out the December/January issue of Mother Earth.

Happy Buy Nothing Day/Black Friday!!!

It's that time of I hit the Black Friday sales, or protest by participating in Buy Nothing Day?

Well, however you decide to tackle your holiday shopping (I'm assuming you observe at least a consumer oriented Christmas) I'm here to give you some helpful advice. What follows is a disjointed list of potential gift ideas for the Transition Conscious (or semi-conscious) cyclist in your life. Some of the ideas will obviously be less Transition-friendly, and many of you may already be scratching your heads as I myself am at this moment. The idea just popped in there. You don't stomp on the muse when you don't have anything better to run with. Okay?

So without excessive ado:

DVDs (buy used): Ride the Divide, Race Across The Sky, Race Across The Sky 2010, Bicycle Dreams (if they're not into mountain biking), American Flyers, Breaking Away, The Bicycle Thieves

Books (buy used): Bike Snob, The Art of Cycling, The Cyclist's Manifesto, It's Not About the Bike (Lance fans), One Less Car, Two Wheels North , Twenty Miles Per Cookie (Nancy Sathre-Vogel), if you're a Colorado resident (or aficionado) Greg Moody's books, William Neally's Mountain Bike!: A Manual of Beginning to Advanced Technique

For the tinkerer: your used bike that needs a little (or a lot) of TLC, a box of wood screws, some duct tape and your old mountain bike tires (DIY studded tire project), and/or a bicycle repair stand

For the winter commuter
Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger Pro Ski Mask , Planet Bike fenders (or better yet, make some out of old license plates), NiteRider MiNewt 600, Niterider Cherry Bomb

For the narcissist: GoPro HD Camera

For the fashion conscious non-vegan: Brooks saddle, Swrve wool cycling caps

For anyone: hand knitted gear (gloves, scarves, hats), Klean Kanteen products (esp bottle cage), bicycle themed wind chimes

Be conscious of where you spend your money. Buy local. Buy sustainable. Put some thought into your holiday giving. Maybe don't give a gift, but give your time, or give time to someone.

If no expense it to be spared and you really want to make someone Transition-conscious get them a cargo bike. Or at least plant the seed.

ADDENDUM: I would also recommend a gift subscription to Mother Earth News.

Sunday, November 20

Turkey Hiatus...Or Not?

Thanksgiving is quick approaching. My parents are going to be visiting and I will be off work all but Monday. And while I do enjoy writing these little messages to poke into the Blogger bottle and toss into the currents of the digital sea of the internet, I don't get paid to do it, so a holiday is a holiday. Don't expect much from me until the week after I manage to digest way too much turkey.

In the meantime, whilst devouring your own feasts, if you were to have any ideas for posts for me to tackle in the near (or far) future, please do not hesitate to run to the computer and email me at teamascentionist (at) gmail dot com. I will wrap my brain around any topic reasonable or not and see what lovely collections of words I can totally mangle in my own special way.

I've got some ideas of my own, but I feel like I'm getting sucked into a rut of my own crafting. My brain works a certain way, and unless it gets knocked off its track every once in awhile it starts beating out the same drum song with only slight changes.


Anyway, as Thanksgiving IS quickly approaching, I will not pull down big miles this month, but I am overbudget to hit my minimum of 5,000 miles for the year. At the end of the week (just after my last Dirty Bismarck treatment) I was sitting at 4,772. I need less than 300 to reach my goal. Man, I could do that with my eyes closed, a hand tied behind my back and a broken leg (the immediate result of being blindfolded with a hand tied behind your back while trying to ride a bicycle).

I am both dreading and eagerly awaiting the beginning of the true '11-12 winter commuting season. I saw some wintery photos on another cyclo-blog and I felt a little flutter in my belly. And then the latest issue of Outdoor Photographer has a piece on the winter photography of Marc Adamus. I want to get back to photography. It's been awhile since I've had a good day of seeking out images to capture and share with the world.

Well, anyway...

If you don't hear from me between now and Thursday: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Saturday, November 19

Pacing Leadville

When I returned to the Coalton Trailhead it was looking like there was no way I was going to pull off a 10 mph average. I had been going for 26+ miles and three hours. I had one big climb ahead of me and 13 miles to go. I just didn't think I'd pull it off.

Rewind three hours: I left the house at 8am on The One and headed north. Biting off an ambitous chew, I had it in my mind that I would ride the Dirty Bismarck from my front door. Yeah, big ambitious for me.

I'd mapped it out and found that the Coalton Trailhead was just over 13 miles from home. Starting at the Coalton TH and doing the loop clockwise dumps a cyclist out at the base of the Dirty Wall right off the, after 13 miles of approach.

I started out strong. I took Garrison to Oberon, Oberon to Kipling and Kipling to Standley Lake. Took the wrong road at Standley and ended up having to portage the bike across the spillway but then I was back on route. On the return trip I made the right choice to get back south of the lake though.

Simms wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be. But then my planned Westminster open space detour turned out to be a restricted road, so I had to stick with Simms past the airport on up to 120th. Jogged west to Superior open space and bombed down into the Rock Creek neighborhood and made a strong showing at the Coalton TH. The descent down from 120th was steep enough I had to put it completely out of my mind. I told myself I would deal with it when the time came.

Looking down into Superior from the south along 120th

It took an hour and fifteen minutes from home to reach Coalton and the Dirty Bismarck. I knew the DB was about 13 miles and would take about an hour and a half. Right on schedule I returned to Coalton after a windy circuit just before eleven o'clock. I was tired. And that climb up to 120th loomed in my mind, and in my view as a matter of fact.

I'd paused at the TH for a short break to eat and use the restroom. So I was pedaling toward the big climb back up to 120th right at eleven. I wanted to be home by noon, but I knew it was going to be a hard 13 miles. I was getting more tired and I knew I had the big climb and a couple of smaller climbs between me and home.

Cranking up through the open space was not as bad as I had expected, though I did end up walking about a hundred feet or so toward the end. I swung back over the top tube and coasted the last few hundred yards to 120th. Then gravity got hold of me and I was screaming south again.

Simms went down easy, I jumped over to the desolate sidewalk on the east side all the way back to Standley Lake and rocketed across the base fo the dam. I was feeling the miles as I crawled up the last bit to 86th Parkway. Another mountain biker came in from a side trail and left me in his dust. I wanted to explain: "I'm at the tail end of a forty miler!" But I said nothing.

There was a short descent down Kipling and then a haul up to 80th and a few blocks beyond. But then above 72nd I hit the apex of the last significant climb and gravity had me once again. It was a screaming ride all the way back to 58th.

When I reached 58th I assumed I was somewhere between noon and one o'clock. I was hungry and tired so I decided instead of going home and then going back out for lunch or having to fix something I'd stop and check out Stefano's Bakery and Deli at Garrison and 58th. When I leaned the bike up against Stefano's front stoop it was 11:59am. Ha! With my two ten minute breaks (minus five more to get home from Stefano's) en route I had still managed to do a 40 mile, mostly dirt, impromptu ride with 1,700+ feet of climbing and maintain a 10.6 mph average. Stellar!

I had a nice chat with Stefano as he fixed me up a #1. Turns out he used to race bikes. He said he was jealous I was out riding on such a nice day. We talked about riding up and over Vail Pass, about next year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and then I headed home to eat a really, really good sandwich with ham, salami, prosciutto, provolone, tomato, lettuce, oil and vinegar.

2011 Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race

10.6 mph average for forty miles is not too bad considering I haven't been doing anything other than my daily commutes to train for Leadville. Forty isn't one hundred though. But its a good start! I need to work up to an 11.1 mph average for a hundred mile, 10,000' gain ride. Doesn't seem like much, but I think it's farther away than it looks right now.

Another cyclist enjoying some dirty therapy

Thursday, November 17

Simple Pleasures

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. 
~John F. Kennedy

Most days I take for granted the fact that I am spending about two hours astride an amazing machine.

In the morning I'm typically thinking more about how I'm going to dress, what stuff I should take or what stuff I'm forgetting, are my lights charged up or have fresh batteries, what will be the weather on my ride home...blah, blah, blah, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And by the time I push off, swing my right leg over the top tube, and push on the pedal to get my bike rolling onto my street I am already far down the road in my mind, thinking about the busy section of road I'll have to traverse, or the work I'll need to get done whilst confined to my cubicle, or some other non-bike related mental detritus.

Rarely am I engaged directly in the act of riding my bike. I exist in a state of FLOW while riding. Lately it's even been hard for me to come up with topics to bloggulate about because my thoughts while riding have been more related to non-cycling things. And since I've been trying to be "coolly stoic" towards moto-fascists I'm desperately trying to suppress my literary road rage as much as possible. (Barring my previous post, of course)

Alas, I think I'm bored with commuting. I think I need to come up with an end of the year ride scheme. My wife tweeted this morning: "Cargo bikes + Thanksgiving dinner supplies = No problem. @PavementsEdge feeling a trip to Sunflower this weekend?" and that was exciting. I can't wait for another longtail adventure!

But I need something to look forward to, something to plan in my head and dream about. And I think I need to work on getting myself back in tune with the bike. I need to break out the repair stand more often. I need to get going on my project bikes. I need to inspire myself and feel the simple pleasures that are associated with bikes in general. I need to ride when I don't have to ride.

Such a simple thing...

Hang Up Your Phone and Walk!

I only have a cell phone because I have a family. I don't like phones in general, and specifically, I loathe having a device that connects me to the world at large at all times. Ages ago I considered buying a cabin surrounded by National Forest and my mother fretted over the fact that I would not even have the option of having a phone there. "You can't live without a phone!" she almost pleaded. Of course I could live without a phone. What about the scores of people who lived and died before Alexander Graham Bell came along? Well, they are dead I guess. But it was not the absence of the phone in their life that killed them; It was lack of adequate emergency care after the bear attacks.

Now onto my cycling related rant:

If you ride your bike while hanging onto a ten foot dog leash (attached to a dog, of course) on a crowded multiuse should be horsewhipped in the town square. I'm not entirely sure that horsewhipping would be the most appropriate punishment to fit the crime, but it's the first thing that comes to mind.

If you are caught walking backwards on a multiuse path, in a curve, hanging onto a ten foot dog leash (attached to a dog, of course) that's spanning the entire path, you have absolutely no right to scream at the cyclist who tells you to watch your dog. Hang up your phone and walk!

Lady, I was going slow enough to stop. But you had absolutely no idea I was coming. Not my fault.

I'm really hating cell phones these days. Oh, they're great fun to use to put in a hard day of Angry Birds at the office. They're fantastic tools to facilitate ignoring the government official you have chosen to work with. But as a constant tether to the world outside your SUV they really detract from everyone else's commuting experience. Connect with reality by looking out the windshield for a change. Or watching the path ahead.

It's frightening to think that most people are so enthralled with the gadgetry included in their standard new car package, or the gadgetry they carry along with them into the car that they can't spare a nanosecond or two to perhaps PAUSE for the @#$%! stop sign!

There are laws after all...

Multiuse paths are perhaps an order of magnitude more dangerous than roads. And as a cyclist blazing home on a particularly exquisite Ramming Speed Friday I have to say I'm probably NOT the most dangerous thing moving out there.

Crowd of three ladies walking, cyclist calls out: "On your left!" and each of the three scatter to a different direction. Kinda like the three stooges, but with less comedic effect.

Young male cyclist stopped in a blind curve talking on his cell phone. Perfect place to take a break, man. You go ahead and block the path. I'll just take the creek. I didn't want to get home unbroken anyway.

And hey, if you're going to walk three large dogs alone along the greenbelt you should probably make sure all three are on ridiculously long leashes, and get them hopped up on some sugary dog biscuits or something for maximum effect. Those of us just trying to go somewhere will really appreciate it. There's no reason you can't control three dogs that combined weigh twice as much as you do.

What kills me is that you just can't escape it. On the roads its the moto-facsists; on the trails its your fellow MUP users. I am feeling so anti-social this week it's just not even funny. The dude "walking" his dog while riding his bike was the last straw. I wanted to chase him down and give him a serious talking to. And he looked at me like I was the one causing a problem as I had to swerve out of his way or risk getting tangled up in miles of leash.

The snow can't come fast enough! That'll weed out some of the crazies. I have assurances from Slipnot Tractions Systems that my new bicycle tire chains have shipped.

I do apologize for being a negative ninny. We're idling at Tuesday (when I initially drafted this piece) and I'm calling the week busted on account of humanity.


Wednesday, November 16

Ride the Divide Again

When we got Netflix one of the first movies I searched for was Ride the Divide. You're going to think I'm cheap, but I have not bought the movie yet. I viewed a library copy the first time I saw it and have been watching Netflix like a hawk ever since.

And then there it was...

I took in a bit of it yesterday online at lunch and then last night watched it with Mandy and one of our friends on Netflix at home.

It's still inspiring. The film still makes me want to quit my job and ride my bike forever. Forever.

Boreas Pass Road, along the Tour Divide route

The difference now, after nearly a year, is that I am even more familiar with many of the places the film exhibits and which the participants pass through. I know more about the Tour Divide and I have been pondering the prospects of doing it in the back of my mind for much of the past year.

I'm still focused on Leadville. But as the past year has rolled on I have become more confident both in my ability to do Leadville and in my ability to do the Tour Divide. While neither are a given, I am sure I can prepare and plan for both. I'm sure that I can do everything necessary to ensure the greatest chance for success. And I will continue to work toward the Leadville goal as this next year unfolds.

I finally have a bike I think is worthy of some endurance rides. I'm starting to redevelop the mentality to pull of some amazing feats of cycling (at least in my own mind) and I am starting to be able to envision the tactics necessary to logistically pull off even the Tour Divide. In fact, I think from a logistics standpoint I'm already there. I can do it. I have no doubt in my ability to plan and execute a big ride. Where I know I need some work is in the mind (to face down the unknown challenges) and body.

Watching RTD last night I was already planning my future attempt, some years down the road, and I was analyzing the strategies of the participants shown in the film.

And right out my back door I have a perfect shakedown ride: The Colorado Trail Race.

The CTR is only 470 miles and 65,000' feet of climbing. The record is 4 days, 3 hours and 20 minutes. The longest time to finish in 2011 was just over 10 days. There is no entry fee, no support, no registration, and no prize money. I would only need a week off of work and the gumption to start. That would give me seven days to finish if the race starts on a Monday like it will in 2012.

They say your forties is the time to do endurance events. Middle aged people have better mental and physical endurance. I'm getting close. 38 this year. In some ways my fitness level is great. In other ways I need some serious work. By the time I could give the CTR a try I'll be almost 40. Tour Divide? Yeah, I'll be kicking the big Four Oh for sure.

Now, I know many out there would say: Life's short, don't put it off. Well, to that I say: my family is my priority. I have two small children and I am already going to be dedicating a chunk of my time over the next year for Leadville. The best I would expect from my family would be 2013 for another big ride. And both the CTR and the TD would be a significantly greater impact on our family. I just can't justify that at this time and maybe not next year either. I don't regret this fact of life. It just affects my decisions. I try to make the best and most right choices. I'd rather regret not getting to do something fun in life than to regret not giving due attention to those things which I hold more dear and more important.

But the portrayal of others doing those amazing things, the Tour Divide, the Race Across America, the Leadville 100, they inspire me to great things if I can work them into an already beautiful life.

I'm looking forward to seeing The Path as well!

Tuesday, November 15

The Be All, End All Insulated Klean Kanteen Review

Klean Kanteen, the company, is amazing. I just want to say that up front. Customer service is top notch. The product is top notch. The experience is top shelf.

After my last "review" I was contacted directly by a KK customer service rep. He told me they were going to send me a replacement Insulated KK to ensure I was completely satisfied with the product. I felt a little guilty. I had not meant for my take on the Insulated KK to be even slightly disparaging. I realized I could have given a better review. Of course, maybe they were just responding to the title of my post: "Gimme More Klean Kanteen."

So as I pondered how to rectify my poor journalistic standards I realized I had to be more scientific. I had to be more objective and use some kind of quantitative measurement to determine the quality of the product.

What follows is a much more rigid comparison with some effort at control. I have a little experience with this, as I did a sock liner comparison last spring between wool, polypro and silk sock liners. But then I realized no one wanted to read about my sock experiment, so I never posted it. Wool won, BTW.

Here goes:

I did a two day test, weather conditions were almost exactly the same, the only thing that changed was that on the first day I checked the temperature immediately after my cold commute, and the second day I let the Insulated KK sit on my desk for a few hours before testing. I tested first with my finger in the liquid and then by drinking.

5:45am Day 1
Coffee has brewed. I take my replacement 16 oz. Insulated Klean Kanteen and fill it with coffee. After screwing on the Stainless Wide Loop Cap I tuck the whole shebang into a reusable grocery bag, and then immediately into the FreeLoader on my Xtracycle to be portaged to work. I pedal for 55 minutes through air that is hovering right at the point where water becomes solid.

7:30am Day 1
I get to work, remove the Stainless Wide Loop Cap and screw on the Wide Café Cap. Coffee is wonderfully hot. It was almost too hot for me to drink (I'm a wuss, remember) and I daresay exceeded any of my expectations. I could only hold my finger in the hot coffee for about two and a half seconds. Ouch!

5:45am Day 2
Coffee has brewed. I take my replacement 16 oz. Insulated Klean Kanteen and fill it with coffee. After screwing on the Stainless Wide Loop Cap I tuck the whole shebang into a reusable grocery bag, and then immediately into the FreeLoader on my Xtracycle to be portaged to work. I pedal for 55 minutes through air that is hovering right at the point where water becomes solid.

1:30pm Day 2
I don't drink my coffee right away. After lunch I decide it's time. I remove the Stainless Wide Loop Cap and screw on the Wide Café Cap. Coffee is warm, BUT...almost eight hours have passed. It's not so hot that I can't leave my finger in the liquid, and drinking is pleasant.

Going almost two full hours beyond Klean Kanteen's promise of six hours for warm beverages, I was pleased to discover that the coffee was only slightly cooler than my preferred drinking temperature. It wasn't cool enough that I felt it necessary to transfer the coffee to my ceramic mug and stick it in the microwave. After eight hours!

The performance of the Insulated Klean Kanteen far exceeds any of the thermoses I've ever owned, and I'll stand by the product for its quality and the company for their commitment to customer satisfaction. And no, they didn't pay me to say that.


Eleventh hour addition: This morning I rode in, basically same conditions plus ten degrees Fahrenheit, except I had the Insulated KK inside a backpack tucked inside some stuff. It had its own insulation plus some added insulation. After an hour the coffee was as hot as if it had come straight out of the pot.

Monday, November 14

Biketopia Zen

Arg! Feeling the full effects of a Monday morning! The inside of my skull is dusty, thick and just not ready for the last week before Thanksgiving holiday.

We stayed off the bikes this weekend, even though the temperatures were nice and warm. There were insane winds on Saturday. In the mountains there were reports of up to 115mph and down in the plains it wasn't a matter of that the wind was a-blowin', but what the wind was a-blowin'. There were lots of branches down on my ride in this morning and debris everywhere.

Sunday was a bit more calm (but still breezy and cooler), but my poor wife was down with some stomach bug or something so the kids and I hung around the ole suburban homestead and I worked on the garden, planted some garlic, cleaned out the gutters and we ran to Home Depot (in the car!) to get some better intel on pricing for shed material.

This morning I made a conscious effort to be "coolly stoic" in regards to traffic, as Robert Hurst suggests in The Art of Cycling. I've been (feebly) trying for awhile to ignore the moto-facsists while maintaining the necessary vigilance to survive bicycle commuting in suburgatory. This morning I discovered something interesting.

Lo, these long months of bicycle commuting in various intensities of traffic I have been focusing my attention slightly to the left. I have been listening and watching for motorists to the neglect of most of my right side.

Now, don't get me wrong, my cyclo-radar snaps right immediately if I detect any movement in the periphery, but I found that to stop being so cognizant of traffic that is overtaking and passing me I actually have to turn my eyes more FORWARD and take in about 45º to the right that I normally leave to said periphery.

This is telling, because my attitude has been hyperfocused on the actions of the motorists overtaking me as well.

Oddly, as I made the attempt to remain emotionally unaffected by the morning traffic my fellow commuters were very well behaved. Am I annoyed because they didn't give me the opportunity to ignore them? No. But I did realize there is a very real conundrum facing cyclo-commuters.

It is very difficult to remain impartial and keep your emotions in check while maintaining a high level of vigilance while participating in traffic. You MUST analyze traffic's behavior to be adept at anticipating dangerous situation and avoiding them. You have to get inside the minds of moto-fascists to some degree, and in doing so it is very hard not to find them guilty of rude and reckless behavior. There is a fine balance and I am on a quest to find it.

Friday, November 11

These Go to Eleven

Of course everyone has been quoting classic rock guitarist Nigel Tufnel today because it is 11-11-11.

It was an 11 day for sure!

But before I get going on today's festivities, let me affirm yesterday as RAMMING SPEED THURRRRSDAY!!! Blasted home in anticipation of a three day weekend, and knocked out an 18+ mph average.

This morning I met and cranked with the younger, scruffier brother of the star of the 1985 movie American Flyers: Morgul Bismarck. The Dirty Bismarck is a 14 mile loop trail inside the road loop that was part of the 1980s Coors Classic bike race. The Morgul is bounded by 120th Ave on the south, highway 93 on the west, Marshall Drive to the north and the town of Superior (McCaslin Boulevard) to the east. The Dirty Bismarck trail is mostly within Boulder County Open Space and ranges from cobble-filled single track, to smooth single track to crusherfine single and double track to dirt and gravel roads.

The Dirty Bismarck is not the name of the trail, but the name of a series of trails that form the loop. The actual trails are the Greenbelt Plateau, the Community Ditch, the Cowdrey Draw, Singletree, Meadowlark, Coalton, and High Plains.

At 8:25am the winds out of Eldorado Canyon were cool and stout. The sun was blazing coolly from the southeast, so I opted to ride clockwise from the trailhead at the junciton of hwy 93 and 120th. Much of the open space is open range as well. So a lot of the trail has been trodden by cattle. It made for some rough riding. It was good sensory therapy. Not so good dental therapy.

Western terminus of the Cowdrey Draw Trail

Smoother surfaces further east

A lot of the trail is better surfaces though. The Superior side has a lot of smooth non-open range crusherfine trails and you can flat out fly! But then once you drop all the way down to McCaslin you have to gain all of that elevation back returning to the trailhead. Initially I had planned on doing a couple of laps around the loop, along with a smaller loop on the west side of highway 93, but when I returned to the TH at 10am I decided just the smaller loop would be enough. I pulled of fan 8.8 mph average on the Dirty Bismark, but on the shorter 8.25 mile loop I slowed to a 7.1 mph average.

I passed on through the TH, crossed highway 93 and onto the Flatirons Vista Trail. I followed it to the Doudy Draw Trail and bombed down to the Community Ditch Trail. I revisited the section where Boone had a flat on a family ride and not one single mountain biker would stop to help us. This morning's passing was much more enjoyable.

It was a fun ride. I pulled off 22.25 miles in just under 3 hours. The Dirty Bismarck is going to be a good training ground for the LV 100.

I love this!

Starting down the Doudy Draw Trail

Thursday, November 10

House Cleaning: Sweeping Out the Dust Bunnies

This is a random post, not necessarily interesting or informative or wholly endorsed by decorum or common sense.

I completely failed to note the passing of my one year anniversary as a full time, totally committed utility cyclist. Back in October 2010 (forget exactly which day) I became 100% committed to this lifestyle.

It was mid-December 2009 when we sold the car, but for almost a year my wife was a stay at home mom and she home-schooled our son, so going "carfree" then wasn't such a big deal. Then in October of 2010 she went back to work in the private school where we had enrolled our son. It was not an economic choice, merely the means to get our children in the school we wanted them to attend.

The new normal, winter 2009-10

We're almost at two years as a one car family. Wow. And I've been a full time bike commuter for a year. It has been a wild ride, pun totally intended, and I am impressed with myself to have come through it all relatively unscathed by doubt or waning enthusiasm. I will readily admit that I am bored or frustrated at times with daily commuting, but compared to driving back and forth everyday I have NOTHING to complain about. I notice the change in weather, the seasons, the migratory patterns of chipmunks, relative humidity, full moon effect on drivers, etc, etc.

So I missed noting that at the time. I apologize. Consider yourself duly notified.

I've laxed in my coverage/analysis of the Occupy movement. Like I mentioned previously, I still think it's important, I still follow the OWS news, but I just can't dedicate too much attention to it and stay sane. I've got to step back, observe, report and keep attending to my family's needs. It's too much of a temptation to drop everything and go occupy someplace. I've gotta pay the bills man!

I've ordered shoulder-injury-prevention implements. Chains are coming. Look for a write-up after the next big winter weather event. I have finally seen the final iteration of the Cannonball X. I know what handlebar configuration I want. We'll see if Santa's bike shop elves can pull it off.

A couple of other things are going on. Look for a Klean Kanteen update soon. The Colorado Bike Summit is still a ways off, but I'm mindful of the dates in February. The time change has thrown me for a loop, but in a good way. I went on an earlier shift, so its been easier for me to get in bed early enough to get up at 5:30am. I get some sunlight on my morning commute, but no direct sun, which makes for easier costuming.

Still watching Greece, and now keeping an eye on Italy. Economic collapse is one big scary unknown, like a dude in a trenchcoat in the dark that you've never seen before. Who knows what he's going to do or when? Maybe nothing, maybe bust your skull open for whatever cash might be inside. I really want to stock up on a lot of stuff (ammo, seeds, medical supplies, get lasik), but if major calamity should ever unfold me and mine are headed east to less arid climes to hang with our families and make a new society that will be non-dependent on fossil fuels.

Sorry for the disjointed post. I need to get it all out and this was a throwaway post, but some things needed to be put out there. I could have stopped after the fourth paragraph. But why not take the opportunity to toss in some randomness?

Wednesday, November 9

Bicycle Cycling: Why Forester is Wrong

I finished One Less Car by Zach Furness and have started reading The Art of Cycling by Robert Hurst, a Denverite. Both are library books. I will be buying both.

Hurst also wrote The Cyclist's Manifesto and I do enjoy his books. Hurst critiques the Vehicular Cycling movement and John Forester's philosophy about cycling in general. I tend to agree with Hurst in regards to Forester's take on cycling. When I first came across John Forester's website a few years ago I initially praised his ideas, but once I realized how militantly Foresterites denounced all other methods of cycling I lost all interest in learning more about vehicular cycling. I took Forester's Effective Cycling off of my Amazon wishlist.

Elly Blue posted a great piece on Grist recently entitled "True confessions of a bicycle scofflaw" in which she very well articulated my approach to cycling in traffic:

"Here is what intelligent yielding means: At any given intersection, regardless of signage, I slow down and look around. If there is someone waiting to cross the street on foot, or if another bicycle or a car has the right of way, I come to a complete stop with my foot on the ground. If none of these things is happening, I go on ahead."

My cycling motto is this: be visible, be vigilant, be consistent. Ms. Blue is describing vigilance. You can't blindly ignore traffic laws. You must maintain an attitude of vigilance and self-preservation. You must look over your shoulder before turning or moving laterally against the flow of traffic. You must keep your eyes ahead and your ears back. You must assume every car is idling and can start moving at any nanosecond.You must not blow through a stop sign if there are cars, bikes or pedestrians present.

Yes, I run stop signs. I do it every day. But I do not blast through busy intersections. I do not blast through any intersection being observed by motorists. If there's no traffic I let the laws of physics trump the laws of man. Why lose all of that tasty good momentum if you don't have to?

I used to say I bike just like I drive, but that's not true. While I will roll through a red light in a dead intersection both on my bike or in a car, I will not do the same if there is any traffic at an intersection. In some respects I drive a car like I ride a bike, but the wonderful beauty of the bike is that it can do so many things a car can't do. And that's exactly why I ride!

You can't pick a car up and set it over a curb, a fence, a gate. You can do that with a bike. You can't get away with driving your car off-road in the city. You can on a bike. You can ride on the sidewalk with a bike. You can bypass gridlock, accident scenes, bad surface conditions and all kinds of urban obstacles. That is exactly the reason the bike makes sense as the best form of personal transportation. You can take it on a bus or train. You can store it in your cubicle at work. You can ride right up to the front door of most buildings. You don't have to find a parking space.

There are so many good reasons to ride a bike for transportation, they far outweigh any negative factors. Yes, I've had three flat tires in a month's time. But I've saved so much hassle, time and money by riding my bike over driving a car that it's been worth it. I truly can't complain. I would much rather change a flat on a bike than on a car. And if I had invested in some Goo or Slime tubes I wouldn't have bemoaned any flats.

So I denounce John Forester's Vehicular Cycling philosophy. As Hurst says, most proponents only use vehicular cycling when its convenient. If there is a path that goes where they want to go they forgo the road.

Embrace the beautiful limitations of the bike. Embrace the true freedom of going upon two wheels. Don't rail against perceived shortcomings. No, bikes are not cars. And that's a good thing, a righteous thing, and a fundamentally important distinction. Cyclists shouldn't fight for the right to be seen exactly as cars. Then we throw away some of the freedoms that make cycling so beautiful in the first place.

Ride on!

Monday, November 7

The Third Flat Tire

In a kidding.

October 13 I was hauling Bean to Lindtopia and we picked up some glass near NREL. We were down for about 25 minutes changing the rear tire on the Cannonball. It was a pain.

And as I bloggedly told you a few days ago I picked up an earring in my MTB tire on the Ralston Creek Trail. I made it home without having to change a tube by stopping repeatedly to put air in it.

This afternoon I was racing home because Mandy had parent-teacher conferences so I needed to meet her to take the kids. I was blazing out of Applewood and as I took a hard fast turn I hit a small rock in the street with my rear tire. Almost immediately I felt the tire going soft. Arg!

I kept going, crossing 32nd, heading onto the I-70 frontage road...I was going to try to make it home without having to stop and deal with changing a tube. Again, it was the rear wheel on the Xtracycle.

No such luck this time. I made it almost to Tabor after stopping once to put more air in the tube. Thankfully the tire wasn't damaged. It wasn't the rock I hit that caused the flat, but a heinous and sinister GOATHEAD!

I love the Xtracycle. I just wish if I were going to get flats I wouldn't always get them on the REAR TIRE!!!

Klean Kanteen update: After my previous post I got an email from Klean Kanteen asking if I would like a replacement insulated KK. I explained the situation in a bit more detail and they said the insulated bottle should be performing better. I'm very happy with both of my bottles and didn't think it was a huge deal that the insulated bottle was losing a little heat over time, but they seem to think it should be doing better than I described.

Kudos to KK for reaching out. I didn't expect that at all, and I think they have a great product no matter what. Will follow with an update soon.

Gimme More Klean Kanteen

I love my Klean Kanteen. I won a 27 oz. Classic KK and bottle cage a few weeks ago and have been using them ever since.

Just this past weekend I picked up a 16 oz. insulated wide mouth Klean Kanteen. It came with a stainless wide loop cap (the old climber in me loves that you can clip a biner through it) and I also got a wide café cap.

First, let me explain that long ago I tried transporting coffee and tea around in a thermos and quickly gave up on that. I bought a cheap thermos and it leaked and was impossible to keep clean. Then I paid about $30 for a thermos and it leaked and was impossible to keep clean. It just wasn't worth it.

But as I looked into the insulated Klean Kanteens I discovered they have a screw on cap and they are wide mouthed with rounded corners on the inside. Combining those features with the ability to screw on a cafe lid and drink straight from the container is ingenious, and you had me at hello.

As advertised, the insulated KK is leak proof. The cafe cap seems well made and I have been able to get the coffee odor out of the bottle and cap with some vigorous hand washing.

In a nutshell, the insulated KK has given me the ability to carry warm drinks with me wherever I go on my bike. I can just toss (carefully) the insulated KK with wide loop cap (tightly screwed on of course) into my backpack or the Cannonball's FreeLoaders and head out. I don't have to worry about spillage.

Now, I do have one small concern. The first day I portaged my insulated KK to work it was naked in my FreeLoaders and the temperature was in the 30s. My coffee was lukewarm when I reached work. I rode for about 50 minutes in 30 degree weather. So the bottle lost heat. But not ALL of its heat. The next day I portaged it in a backpack (rode the MTB) and it may have been slightly warmer. It was drinkable still.

This isn't a huge factor. But if I wanted to take the insulated KK on a long outdoor trek I fear it would lose ALL its heat within a couple of hours. I have not tested this theory, so I may be wrong.

An easy way to mitigate the problem would be to have the bottle wrapped up in a backpack or bag. Most often if I'm going to be out in the cold I have a backpack anyway.

I did a quick test to see if the café lid would leak if I carried the insulated KK in the bottle cage. It does fit nicely. I pedaled down the ditchline next to our house and only a small amount of liquid leaked out. It would work, but its not ideal. The stainless wide loop cap would keep it from leaking at all though.

The short story is that its a great product and I will stick with Klean Kanteen for all my thermos (and hydration) needs.

16oz Insulated Klean Kanteen and 27oz Classic KK

Sunday, November 6

Year of the Longtails: Breeding Like Longtails

This past year has been an awakening for me. About this time last fall I discovered Xtracycles and realized the vast potential they represented. From that gateway bike I discovered a whole realm of cargo and utility bikes I had ignored or was just oblivious to.

Before we got the Ute and the FreeRadical I went to the 2011 Front Range Cyclist Bicycle Show and saw a Yuba Mundo on display and my first live Xtracycle.

Immediately after getting the FreeRadical rolling I saw an Xtracycle in Denver on the way to Salvagetti. About the same time I started seeing the same electric assist Schwinn trike at our local grocery store. As we were getting ready to go buy the Ute at Salvagetti we saw two on craigslist Denver.

Over the months leading up to our longtail purchases we discovered a couple of metro area bloggers who captain cargo bikes, Big Dummy Daddy and One Less Car: Denver.

On Bike to Work Day I saw a Big Dummy blasting past our breakfast station in a pack of short bikes. Didn't get a photo or a chance to say "hi." When Mandy and I went to the Rocky Mountain Bicycle Festival we saw a LOT of cargo bikes. On display were a Yuba Mundo or two, a Sun Atlas, and a cargo trike. As we were leaving we found another Ute parked next to Mandy's.

In the midst of all the hoo-ha surrounding the US Pro Cycling Challenge we met a guy in Golden riding an Xtracycle. He was cranky, didn't want to talk to us, and was skeptical that I had an Xtracycle (was on OBS that day).

Then just a few weeks ago we ran into a reader out and about who also has a cargo bike.

And just last week, on my way in to work on The One, I passed a guy just a mile or so from the building, blasting east on 10th Avenue on a Ute.

It's been a crazy year. This time last year I thought a "cargo bike" was my Cannonball with panniers pulling a trailer. And I still think that configuration, as well as others, qualifies as part of the cargo bike community. Since that time I've entered a whole new world of cycling and I love it!

I don't know if I was just oblivious before last fall, perhaps its the same phenomenon that occurs when you buy a new car, new outfit, etc and it suddenly seems like everyone has the same one.

Regardless, I think it's been a great year.

Friday, November 4

Ramming Speed Friday: Inlaws Edition

It's been a good week, but a light commuting week. Oh, I've worked every day, but my family has been off of school while my inlaws are in visiting. So when the faux-snowpocalypse dumped a few inches on us early Wednesday morning I drove in. And then yesterday I drove again. Car was sitting idle and roads were icy and snowy. It's like I'm car-sharing. Right?

Well, anyway, I firmly decided to ride this morning and I'm glad I did (see earlier post).

On Tuesday Tom met me at Pedal Pushers at 12:30. I took the afternoon off and we cranked up out of town to the south side of South Table and made our way onto the mesa top. Then we spun around the trails for awhile taking it all in. Finally we descended back to Golden on the west side. There was a bit of walking. It's steep and rocky.

South Table Mountain, Denver in the background

Then we headed out of town between the mesas, contoured around to the Golden Bike Park and after making the scene there for a little while we jumped over on the Fairmount Trail and followed it all the way up to Ralston Creek via the Blunn Trail. As the sunlight bled from the sky we plodded east toward home. The temperature had started dropping as we were leaving GBP and somewhere soon after hitting the RCT I picked up an earring in my tire. Hissssssssss!

Golden Bike Park

An EARRING! Not a goathead, not glass...a flower earring with a post that looked to be about 3/4 of an inch long. I'm sure someone was bummed they lost it. I know I was.

I yanked it out and jammed some air into the tire and we were on the pedals, heading fast for home. I stopped two more times to put air back in the tire but made it home without having to yank the tire off. I didn't have it in me to change the tire, and didn't get around to it Wednesday night. That is more of the reason I didn't ride yesterday than because of the snow.

Anyway, with firm tires and less snowy and icy conditions I headed home early today. I took another afternoon off. But it's still Friday, and I still had to get home...

RAMMING SPEED! (18.6 mph)

If enough melting and drying goes on today I'm going to try and get Tom out for one more good ride tomorrow. I'd wanted to take him up to Buffalo Creek. But dubious reports indicate the possibility of over a foot of snow still on the ground there. We might stick to multi-use paths in the metro area.

An Irresistible Form of Transportation

This morning the temperature was 26ºF. The sun had not peeked above the horizon by the time I got to work. And it was a great ride.

I miss the stars. On Monday the skies were very clear as I rode in. I chased Orion into Golden. Tuesday was about the same. I didn't ride the past two days because the car was free as Mandy and the kids are off this week while her parents are in visiting and there was a bit of snow and ice about. This morning there were some solidly wispy clouds but the stars were still apparent.

I didn't notice the cold. The darkness was my friend this morning. My Laser carved a way for me into Golden. As I rolled up through downtown I realized my pace had slowed considerably. I was enjoying my ride.

I was almost to work, the sun was coloring the sky an amazing array of oranges, pinks, yellows and reds, when I saw some movement in the darkness of some trees ahead of me. I was riding up the US 6 bikepath and was almost to the intersection of 6 and Jeffco Parkway. There was a herd of elk, probably 20 strong, milling about across the bike path and in the corner near the crosswalk and traffic light. It is a busy intersection in the morning and I am surprised they were just hanging out.

I paused for a bit. I wasn't sure where to go, what to do. I was not going to go back down the hill and come in another way. I would wait them out first.

As I eased toward them they moved in a group toward the intersection, and while I would secretly (well, not so much now) have loved to see the traffic snarl it would have caused I didn't want to see anyone, or anyelk, get hurt. Finally they dispersed enough that I could sneak through and get onto Jeffco Parkway and head on in to work.

Great ride in...

Thursday, November 3

First EVER Pavement's Edge Lame Contest

Okay, as a cyclo-blogger I feel lame because I have never done a contest. Here is the first:

So here is the contest(Honor system please! No wikipedia, no google, no lifelines or help from friends…or fiends):

This book was made into a film. What was the name of the film? First correct answer wins some semi-lame (but possibly NOT!) schwag. There will be a second phase to the contest after this first phase is complete. Please respond to @pavementsedge (twitter) with the answer and the hashtag: #lamecyclobloggercontest

Twitter ready (almost) copy/paste:

@pavementsedge [answer] #lamecyclobloggercontest

Bikes are Real

...And they're not toys.

They're not a fascist plot to overthrow democracy.

They are not democratic, socialistic or communistic.

They're not just for athletes.

They're not just for kids.

They're not just for old people.

Bikes can go fast. Bikes can carry things.

They're not complicated.

They don't need gas.

They go more places than cars can go.

They're neither republican nor democrat.

They are not Christian.

Not Muslim.

Not Wicca.

Not Hindu.

Not atheist.

Not agnostics.

Bikes are not bombs. Bikes are not violent.

They are not cars.

They never lie.

They are incorruptible.

Bikes are quiet.

They are eco-friendly.

They are futuristic.

Bikes are fun. Bikes help people.

Poor people like bikes.

Rich people like bikes.

Heck, I think even Sugar Cain would like bikes if he tried one.

Wednesday, November 2

Occupy the Roads

The linchpin of our modern world civilization is oil. We got to this point in technological, medical and economic advancement because oil has been cheap and easy to get to for the past century or so.

We developed an addiction to oil. As western civilization expanded it relied more and more on oil to grease the cogs of progress. And we used more. And more. And more. And now we're so terribly dependent on it that if it were to stop flowing as freely tomorrow as it does today we wouldn't know what to do.

We don't have a ready substitute. Before oil we relied heavily on coal. But we cannot revert back to coal to replace oil. That EROI needs a bailout. Nuclear power cannot replace oil to power cars, lubricate machinery, or drive our economy. Even if we could work out the logistics to make it work, the cost to retool our entire machine is prohibitive. Hydrogen is a net energy loss. It takes energy to create fuel cells. We need electricity to build a hydrogen economy. To get electricity we need oil to run machinery to deliver and maintain our power grid. We're back to oil.

The problem is scale. The oil drinking monster has grown exponentially as we've refined (pun intended) our process to extract and process petroleum into the products we use and throw away. We now consume an amazing amount of petroleum based products every day (an estimated 82 million bbl/day)

I read an article recently and the author sums it up nicely this way: "Even though energy may represent something like 10% of GDP, it’s what makes the other 90% possible."

I watched a small bit of the new show Rock Center with Brian Williams the other night, and I was disappointed to see the piece on Williston, North Dakota and the seeming praise for the booming Bakken development. Bakken is bad. Bakken is fracking. Bakken is feeding he addiction. It's not helping us scale back and reduce our dependence on oil. We don't need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need to reduce our dependence on oil altogether, no matter where it comes from.

And while the boom will help some unemployed get back on their feet and pay the bills for awhile, if this addictive behavior continues unabated we're destined to run headlong into the post-carbon apocalypse with our pants down.

Rock Center didn't do much to help us recognize we have a real problem. The buzz today is jobs. It's all about jobs. But the lack of jobs isn't the problem, its a symptom. And while Wall Street greed and corporate corruption is rampant and pervasive, it is also a symptom more than the cause. Ultimately the disease is our addiction to cheap easy oil. Everything else hinges on that one factor.

So there should be an Occupy the Roads movement. Protest SUVs, unnecessary driving, and poor or non-existent funding for alternative modes of transportation. And for crying out loud protest subsidies for Big Oil, the Big Three and the sprawl monster that is gobbling up our landscape. We need a Critical Mass for the economy. Oh wait, that's OWS.

In The Cyclist's Manifesto Denverite Robert Hurst states that the bicycle will not save the world but that it might be the solution to individual problems. I wasn't comfortable with his position when I first read the book, and I'm even more convinced now that he may not be entirely correct in that assumption. The bicycle is the mode of transport for the revolutionary, for the visionary. Protests go upon an army of two wheels. When you're down, out, poor and despondent, the bicycle is a salve for your soul. It keeps you going when nothing else can. It bridges the chasm of time and space.

Our need and greed for oil has fostered a society of speeders, distracted drivers, road ragers and gridlocked people. Faster, faster, faster go the cars, while pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists get ground under the wheels of progress. And the courts overlook vehicular crimes as "accidents" and as being a part of everyday life. Victims become criminals and criminals become the victims.

Occupy Boulder marching on Pearl Street Mall

[edited to add minimal content]

Tuesday, November 1

Working With Bikes

Memory is a funny thing. I just remembered once when I used my bike as part of my job.

I used to be cool. I used to be a climbing guide. Ah, in the days before kids! The days before marriage, stability in my life, three meals a day...yeah, I used to take people climbing for money. After I met Mandy she helped me and we were pretty darn good at what we did.

Summit of Table Rock, NC (Linville Gorge area)

Take a trip with me, way back to 2005. October to be exact. One of my most memorable clients was a guy named Bob from Connecticut. Bob was an experienced climber and wanted to hire a guide as a climbing partner for a week of climbing in the Red River Gorge. In October. How can you turn something like that down?

The result was a week of me following Bob up some of my favorite climbs in the area. He asked me for suggestions and I took him to the walls and pointed to the climbs. I belayed Bob as he led and then I followed him. We did a lot of climbs.

I had mentioned one particular climb I wanted him to do, one of my top three favorites, a pinnacle called Minas Tirith (another Tolkien reference you GEEKS!). The problem was that the USFS road where the formation was located was closed due to a landslide.

Summit of Minas Tirith, 1994

I suggested to Bob that we could bike the 2.3 miles out to the trail and do the climb. He was game and toward the end of the week we made plans to do the route.

We loaned Bob one of our bikes and I took the kid trailer (now the apocalypse buggy) along. I left the trailer folded flat, loaded our two climbing packs on it and trailed it along as we rode out the desolate road, enveloped in autumn goodness.

The climb was a success. We didn't see a soul, Bob had a blast and I wished I could incorporate more bike trips with my guided climbing. Alas, it never worked out that way afterward.

The road stayed closed for quite some time. A couple of months later I discovered a nice looking climb that had probably never been ascended while on a bushwhack exploration. It was further out the road than where the pinnacle was located, and a much longer hike to boot.

That crack haunted me. I thought of it often, even dreaming of climbing it once. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I made my plans and struck out.

A 4 mile bike ride out Indian Creek Road (FS 9b) got me to an older unmaintained road. I locked up the bike and trailer, shouldered my climbing pack and hiked in another mile up Little East Fork of Indian Creek to the base of the pretty little crack.

I built an anchor and eased up the crack, dispatching a moderate crux midway up and a heady and exposed finish to an amazing little perch on top of the cliffline. Then I cleaned the route, packed up my gear and began the five mile trek out.

It was an amazing experience. I had been doing a lot of roped-soloing and was comfortable being out so far on my own. It was a cold, but sunny day and I had the world to myself.

I called the route (get ready for this Tolkien geeks!) There and Back Again.


The marked change in the person I was then and the person I am now...when I did those routes in 2005 I drove from home fifteen miles to the trailhead before biking in to the hiking trails. Now I wouldn't blink at taking the bike the whole distance.