Wednesday, February 29

Taken for Granted

I find myself lacking topics to write about. I no longer rant about moto-fascist or the struggle for space on the roadways. I seem to have found a groove wherein I can do my routine commutes back and forth with the least inner turmoil possible. While I could focus on the car versus bike issues and the lack of ideal infrastructure I'm not inclined to perpetually exhaust my life energy in angst-ridden rants.

Since we're firmly intrenched in the winter season, there has been less utilitying or cargoing around town: no Bean hauling, no Boone portaging...nada.

I ride. I ride most days. This is my normal now. And I sometimes take for granted the uniqueness of my own situation. I'm often as surprised as people I run into when I say: "Oh, I don't have a car" as an explanation for my needs and self-accomodations related to my cyclo-centric lifestyle.

I've grown so accustomed to thinking ahead to make the appropriate allowances that I rarely get hung up on motivational factors, weather, darkness and other obstacles.

Dare I say my cycling has become mundane during these winter months? I dare not. Especially since the full force of winter has hardly descended upon us this frigid season. We need the snow, mainly in the mountains, to quench the thirsts of this arid land and her children, but I am okay with dry roads and paths from now to infinity. Since this is my Leadville year I want dryness ASAP so I can start tearing up the mesas again.

Today is Leap Day, so jump around. I headed out to work only to be shut down by the wind less than two miles from home. My riding for the month of February is over.

Tuesday, February 28

The Leadville Chronicles: Why Leadville, Why Now?

Part III

This post attempts to "Dig Deep" into my motivation and reasoning behind my desire to ride the Leadville 100*. I'll give you a summary background (as chronicled piecemeal over the past four years on this very blog) and then try and explain how I got from thinking there would never be a chance I'd even want to do a 100 mile mountain bike race (immediately after the Triple Bypass in 2009) to now, when I am raving mad and constantly chewing on my handlebars in rabid anticipation.

Let's go way back to the beginning. Okay, nevermind, fast forward to 2008. In May, just before my family came out to Colorado from Kentucky, I met one of Mandy's grandfather's truck drivers up in Lafayette and got the last palette of our furniture and things. Also included was the Cannonball. I had only brought the Giant road bike with me initially , and being the middle of winter I had regretted that choice many times between February and May.

The weekend after the Cannonball arrived in Colorado I subjected it to the indignity of being hauled on the back of the long gone Suburbaru and drove up past Evergreen to Alderfer/Three Sisters Open Space. But instead of tooling around the north side of the park I turned my knobby wheels south, and plied my way to the summit of Evergreen Mountain. My "mountain bike" could finally wear the name with pride.

My mountain biking experience prior to that time mostly involved tooling around on oil roads and defunct logging roads in Kentucky. There was really no developed singletrack there, and the Cannonball—mountain bike though it was—carried me over asphalt more often than not.

My taste of trail riding on Evergreen Mountain was slow to develop into a passion for mountain biking. I felt unsure of my abilities off-road and was leery of jumping on any of the popular and busy singletrack trails along the Front Range.

Then in late 2008 I began talking about riding the Triple Bypass Bicycle Tour, a road ride from Evergreen to Avon, encompassing 120 miles over three passes. As part of my training I planned a few off-road routes because that was the easiest way to incorporate significant climbing into my training. I rode Guanella Pass on the Cannonball because a good portion of the road was dirt. And I rode Berthoud Pass because I intended to also summit Colorado Mines Peak.

About a month after the Triple Bypass I took my family camping near Leadville, and ironically, the same weekend as the big race. We missed seeing lance Armstrong come back 'round Turquoise Lake by only a few minutes. It was the year he won after placing second behind Dave Weins in 2008.

On Aug 18, 2009 I wrote: "I did get to see parts of the Leadville 100 and though I had not considered it in the past, I can see myself aspiring to do it in the future."

That was the first twinkle in the eye of the father of the desire to do a 100 mile mountain bike race. But that desire gestated an inordinately long period of time—more than a year—until early November of the next year.

The inspiration and impetus that brought me over the edge were two films: Ride the Divide and Race Across the Sky 2010. Ride the Divide opened my mind to the possibility of doing a long off-road bike tour/race. I had not previously considered doing something like the Tour Divide, but while watching the film I began rearranging the bicycling components in my brain. Soon after I attended the preview of Race Across the Sky 2010 and my path was clear...Leadville was burned into my brain.

During that time, the fall of 2010, I was increasing my mountain biking presence. My beloved road bike had been killed by a carport, and I was riding the Cannonball in commuter form exclusively. I'd made a couple of bikepacking forays with my family as well. Then my father-in-law and I rode the Switzerland Trail west of Boulder. The deal was sealing... My love for off-road cycling was growing.

For Christmas 2010 I inherited my first "modern" mountain bike complete with front suspension and a modern MTB geometry. With the OBS under me I began exploring some close by trails, and dirt became my new normal. And I started liking it too much.

At the beginning of 2011 I reaffirmed my plan and goal to ride Leadville in 2012. I signed up to volunteer for the 2011 race to improve my chances of getting in the lottery and I started thinking more about training. I mapped some ambitious rides. I've only ridden a couple of them to date, but they are there, waiting to be completed and repeated.

I ventured out to Buffalo Creek and loved the singletrack there. I rode and rode, 5,100 mile over the course of 2011, and I hauled myself and my gear from the plains up to Guanella Pass over Fourth of July weekend. I admitted I was a closet mountain biker, and I gave in to the strong temptation to grind down the mesas in pre-work prairie-bike rides.

These experiences have worked to grant me the confidence and greater desire to test myself in Leadville this coming August. For a guy who came from sea level four years thence, the prospect of tackling this challenge is significant. The fact that I have the confidence to move toward this goal proves my extreme folly, or my faith in my own abilities. Time will tell. I'm putting my beans on faith.

I could have continued after the Triple Bypass with road rides. I've wanted to do the Copper Triangle, the Stonewall Century and the Deer Creek challenge in the years since. I could have continued with my own personal, non-organized goals. But something has drawn me to doing this race, this long, endurance ride at elevation, off-road...

The challenge is greater than anything else I've concocted. I've realized that from the beginning. In watching Race Across the Sky 2010 I saw an experience that goes beyond any contrivance I could articulate. I wanted that experience for my own. I wanted to see how far down I could be beaten and still come back. Leadville offers that opportunity in spades.

* For future reference, I know the official name is "Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race," but I'm too lazy to type that out repeatedly. I'm not an ultramarathoner, I have no intention of doing the Leadman challenge. So when I, a nearly-middle-age-Lance-Armstrong-wanna-be, speak of "Leadville," or "the Leadville 100," there is only one event I could be referring to.

Saturday, February 25

The Leadville Chronicles: Padding

Part II

I'm sure I'm not the only on-the-cusp-of-middle-age-overweight-dude with big ambitions of riding Leadville in less than 9 hours. Thursday I was telling a cyclist co-worker that I'd gotten my confirmation. He asked if Lance was going to be in this year's race.

"I sure hope so. I need someone to draft."

Haha! I kill me.

It's not padding the monthly mileage if the ride directly contributes to Leadville training, right? Unfortunately I have some padding around the middle that I can't semanticize away. I "outgrew" my mountain bike shorts. Sob. Weep.

My lovely wife sent me out to ride this morning. Due to the recent snows and current melting situation (saw a digi-thermometer advertising 64ºF!!!) I opted to stick to hard surfaces. I rode through Olde Town, picked up the Ralston Creek Trail at Lamar, eased over to the Clear Creek Trail and cruised east out to the Splatte. Turning north I headed for the downstream terminus and right at an hour out and fifteen miles from home I reached...what used to be the end of the South Platte Trail. Looks like it's been extended north/downstream. Wonder how far? The next ride will tell.

It was a lovely morning and a lovely ride out, but when I turned my wheel south I was smacked with a weak but steady headwind. It was a grinding trip back. I fought to keep my speed up. It kept dipping down to 12 mph, and after awhile I was even fighting to stay above 10 mph as I climbed up alongside Clear Creek and into the wind out of the mountains. For the entire 31.25 mile ride I maintained a 12.9 mph average, and that was with a quick stop to refuel and rehydrate and a couple of short detours.

I'm okay with that today. I've been sick for half a month or so. I'm just getting my energy and pep back. Maybe I can convert some of this padding to energy and pep.

Silly Bean and I snuck over to the LBS and discovered that they still have a used Bianchi 10 (or maybe 12) speed road bike and they've gone down a little on the price since the first of the year. Tempting Frodo. Tempting.

Find more Bike Ride in Arvada, CO

Friday, February 24

Mourning Myopia

I often take my vision for granted. Rare do I bemoan my wretched eyes or fret over my realistic blindness. I've had some problems with my eyes of late, and those problems prompted me to visit the optometrist today.

I've been hoping to get LASIK in the near future, and two other doctors have given me a favorable recommendation to do so. The doctor this morning was not hard pressed to avoid dashing my hopes. At least for now, it seems the stability of my vision isn't what it should be prior to the procedure.

Hopefully the apocalypse will hold off until after my vision has stabilized.

I am what is considered "legally blind." Go ahead, ask it. No, I don't know what would constitute illegal blindness. Haha. Ha. I can't remember what my exact 20/number is. I seem to remember seeing something like 20/400 once. Regardless, without correction I am effectively blind. I can see colors, blurry smudges, and little else.

I tried to use my camera and go as blurry as possible to simulate what I see. I had to play around a bit, but I finally managed a fairly accurate simulation of my vision:

Like I said, I typically don't give my vision much thought. I take it for granted because technology has given me the ability to see when my eyes are not capable of doing so. I'm helpless without lenses.

I can replicate the approximate blurriness of my vision with my camera, but what I can't replicate is the astigmatism effect. My vision also has a doubled quality to it that further exacerbates the blurriness.

And do you know what's really frustrating? When you're sitting behind the big goggle-armed thing in the optometrist's office—y'know: "Which is better? One...or two? One...or two?"—and after a long series of being unable to distinguish between ones and twos, twos and threes, threes and fours, fours and ones and the doctor sits back and says: "I'm not sure why I can't get you to 20/20."

And in your mind you're thinking: "%@#$! I'm not correctable anymore!" No, I'm not crying Doc, you put drops in there, remember?

I rode my bike to and from the vision center. Getting there was obviously no sweat. Literally. It felt like 24ºF. Ironically, it was 24ºF. Getting home was a slow, steady affair, aided by the vision place's complimentary wrap around "sunglasses."

Nothing like a dose of reality on a Friday to spice up your weekend, eh?

Looking across the street from my house

Thursday, February 23

Of All the Days...

The wind had subsided. As I lay in bed in the pre-dawn dimness I knew the wind was gone. And I knew from the quality of light outside the window that it had snowed.

Without completely waking I did a quick internal diagnostic and decided my body was in significantly better condition than when I'd gone to bed. And that's when I decided I'd ride my bike in to work.

I ambled down the hall; and under the peachy ambient light reflected off the low hanging clouds over the metro area I could see there was only a couple of inches of snow on our street. Nothing was falling from the sky then.

And so I went.

By the time I reached I-70 snow was coming down like a heavy blanket, piling up on the Clear Creek Trail, sticking to every part of me body and bike.

I stopped under the I-70 overpass long enough to send a couple of texts. Then I pushed on into No-Man's Land. The farther west I pedaled the deeper the snow became and the heavier it fell from the sky. On one small hill I floundered to a stop and walked to the top of the rise before pedaling on.

Progress was slow. Snow was 6 to 8 inches deep. I was sweating under the shell of snow over my sweater.

I walked up the long hill as the path climbed alongside highway 58 and over 44th. Then I pedaled into Golden and clearing skies. I weaved through town, avoiding the busier slushy streets to avoid being splashed. Then I walked up the long hill from the end of Illinoising to the Jeffco campus. Two hours it took...

I didn't think I'd be able to ride home in the afternoon, but from the citadel on the hill overlooking Golden it looks like the paths and sidewalks are getting cleared. I'm going to venture toward home this eve on my bike. Hopefully the return trip won't feel the folly that the ride in felt.

I'm off tomorrow. Probably too much snow out to pad my miles for the month. But you never know...

Not being sick feels good. Gave me more courage to ride, inspired me to face down an impromptu mini-snowpocalypse.

Wednesday, February 22

Keep Up the Slack, Jack!

If I only ride my normal commutes for the rest of the month of February I will have ridden less than 250 miles total. Deplorable. But then again, February has never been a historically high mileage month for me.

While the wintriest months seem to be behind us, March has always been good for a few surprises. Lest we forget the Blizzard of 2009: March. The Luge Incident: March 2010. March is typically a windy month too. Windy is my least favorite weather to bike in.

I make no assumptions about the impending March 2012. I'm not even going to talk about Mayans. Or the post-carbon apocalypse. Which my nine year old son assures me is not real.

It's all training though. Right? Adversity fosters resilience. Right? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Right?

So if I don't break 250 miles for the month, this February will still not be my worst (since 2008). All bets are off before 2008. Actually, if I just do my normal commutes the rest of the month I'll pull down my second best February since 2008. Maybe I should look at it that way. And if I can eek out 77 miles above and beyond my commutes between now and Leap Day then I can call March 2012 my best February ever!

Past February mileage:
2011: 313
2010: 46
2009: 201
2008: 209

Tuesday, February 21

What Day Is This..?

Somebody said it's Tuesday. I sure wish it were, but I just don't see how it could be; it feels too much like Monday. There is a weekly meeting this morning. Those are always on Mondays. I feel like I've been run over by a truck (but not for the reasons Bill Cosby explains in Himself), and I rode a leaking front tube all the way to work this morning.

I was less than a mile from the building when I realized the bike was handling funny. I stopped to pump in a bit of air. There were less than 30 PSI when I stopped. I couldn't find a goathead. Not sure what caused it. So at some point today I will be changing a tube in my cube. Joy.

I'm sick of being sick. And the lights seem too bright in my cube-shaped world this morning. But I rode. I rode my bike. I did not give in to the temptation to carpool. I committed to the ride...committed to the return ride. Motivation was not a factor. Lack of energy was not a factor. I just did it.

Leadville creeps closer and I am still on my hands and knees crawling toward the fitness level I need to pull of sub-nine. My commute this morning was painfully slow. Something has got to give!

Monday, February 20

There's an App for That: Bike Repair

I've always wondered if the sitting president, and our former presidents, get cake and presents on Presidents Day? They should.

My whole family is off work/school/babysitter today. So far we've not really gotten free of the house yet today though. The outside temperature is fairly low and there is a high wind warning for the Front Range today.

I've not been feeling good for a few days. It all started last Thursday when I discovered I had an ocular migraine. Mandy offered to come pick me up at work, and I accepted. Then I called in Friday because it had not gone away. I did feel pretty good on Saturday, but as yesterday wore on I started feeling like another migraine was coming on. Today my ears have seemed stuffed up, though no migraine, and I haven't felt like doing much of anything.

Enough of my ailments, I discovered a pretty cool app for my iPhone a week or so ago. It's called Bike Repair.

You can name and enter all of your bikes.

And then you can enter bike specific component data.

Then you can track the maintenance history for each component.

Then there is a troubleshooting feature:

And then general guides for different aspects of the bike and its workings:

It takes a little work up front to populate all the data for each bike (so far I have only completely entered The One) but I think once I get it all set up this may become one of the most useful apps I've found.

There is at least one in-app buy in as well. Overall I love the app so far.

Thursday, February 16

The Leadville Chronicles: Talkin' Big

It's on.

No...IT'S ON!!!

One hundred and seventy-six days until I meet my doom. Or crush the Leadville Trail 100.

In case you missed yesterday's BREAKING NEWS

In the Fat Cyclist spirit I'm going to share a bit of personal, embarrassing, information with all of you, my faithful, and not-so-, Dear Readers.

As of yesterday morning I tip the scales at a whopping 196 pounds. By August 11 I will be down 21 pounds to a mean 175. By August 11 I will be comfortable spurring The One to lengths exceeding 100 miles in a single push. By August 11 I will have crafted or purchased the core strength I have always dreamed of having. By August 11 my sub-nine hour finish will be assured.

Oh, Dear Readers, I may not be blogging about all that I will be doing over the next few months. Hopefully I will be so busy shoving my pedals round and round that I won't have time for such silliness. I may have to do an Autumn Retrospective of the entire 2012 year.

If you don't hear from me, be assured that I will be doing many mountain/prairie bike commutes, crimes/rides of opportunity, and weeping from exhaustion after crushing my crank for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles.

Wednesday, February 15

Oh Yeah, I Own an Xtracycle

As we get closer to the year anniversary of my family becoming cargo bike fanatics, I am aware that of late I have taken the wonderful blessing of Long-tail-edness for granted. It's just a bike to me now. And when people gawk, or ask about the bike, I tend to reply as shocked.

A couple of days ago I was deftly swinging the CBX through a doorway at work and one of my co-workers (who had never seen my Xtracycle) stopped dead in the hall and stared. I had to give the short explanation and the co-worker left, craning her neck back to look at the bike. I remembered then: "Oh yeah! I own the coolest bike ever!"

That night on the way home I tried a new variation commuting through Golden and passed the Golden Bike Shop on Washington. They had an Xtracycle sitting out front. I remembered how much I love seeing an X out in public that's not my own. Even in Golden and Arvada I see very few.

Today I'm on The One. Today I should find out if I won the lottery.

In a completely unrelated and random sidebar: I get the distinct impression that the position of Bicycle Coordinator for the Commonwealth of Kentucky is vacant.


As I was posting this very entry I received an email...

I won the lottery...

Tuesday, February 14

Fast and Light

I had a couple of errands to run in town today so I was a bit later riding in to work. It was really nice doing my commute in full daylight. Plus, since I was running on "texting in late" time I was under no pressure to rush my ride, so it was rather enjoyable. And oddly quicker than usual.

Without going into too much depth I'd like to share a company with you that has caught my attention recently: Lightfoot Cycles out of Darby, Montana. Lightfoot is the kind of company I would love to work for or start up on my own. I'm not going to go into great detail here because their webpage is chock full of information and photos.

Two good places to start are their Light Footprint page and their Mission page. Then check out some of their models. I can't say enough good things about what I see in their product.

Short post today, but I'm working on some bigger posts and working on things other than this blog. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 13

I Got Nothin'

I am not motivated to write about cycling today. My little brain is tired.

It's Monday. Monday is blah this week. Maybe by tomorrow I'll get going and crank out something satisfying for the masses.

I can't even come up with a good share....article, blog post, photo. Being sick for a couple of weeks and fighting weather and motivational obstacles can really take the literary fight out of you.

At least I had a respectable Ramming Speed Friday last week.

Friday, February 10

Maybe Ramming Speed Friday

I was slow this morning. Oh. So. Slow.

I was this close to calling in sick. Almost...

The trails are wonderfully dry and mostly free of ice. That will change once the daytime temps start climbing. There has only been a little thawing since the 2012 snowpocalypse.

And of course that meant there was potential this afternoon for...

You guessed it!


Did I?

I averaged 17.2 mph. Oh yeah! The long awaited return of Ramming Speed Friday.

It was cold, windy, dark. I cranked on oblivious to the possibility of ice, oblivious to a sickness weakened body, oblivious to the weight of a long week dragging at me.

Mayhap the return of my resolve as well? We'll see...

Thursday, February 9

Reformed Quitter

I rode. I rode I rode I rode.

There have been six days of not riding since last I did ride. I have only 31 miles for the month and it's the 9th!

I didn't feel so hot when I got to work. Tired. But I don't necessarily think that's an illness issue as much as a five-year-old-waking-up-her-parents-at-five-thirty-a-m issue. My Klean Kanteen transported coffee has not raised me from this funk. 16 ounces of Sumatran—kept wonderfully warm through the twenty degree cold—just didn't cut it. Was that a plug? Who me?

The beauty was that the roads and the Clear Creek Trail were mostly dry and free of ice. It was a low stress ride in from that standpoint. I was only a little slower than usual for a commute between the mesas and through Golden. Construction has begun on the Moss Street extension at NREL so South Golden Road is a mess now. Won't be riding that way (which is my shorter option) for about a month.

I don't have class again in Boulder until mid-March. Of course March is the time of potential mini-ice ages along the Front Range. We'll deal with that factor when, and if, it occurs. I now have plenty of time to focus on two of my online classes, and I am going to start some "light" studying for the LEED® Green Associate Exam. I have no timeframe for taking the exam. I'll take it when I think I'm ready, but with the classes I'm taking at CU I will meet the prerequisite criterion I need for taking the test.

I looked at some sample questions, and I'm slightly scared. That's saying a lot, because tests were my thing, academically speaking. I didn't study for the ACT and had a wretched gpa in high school and got a 24 first (and only) try. It would have been significantly higher than that as well, but I bombed the math section.

The sample GA exam questions make my heart quiver like the five question "quizzes" that one of my geography professors gave. The weekly quizzes were over global regions. So the first quiz was over Europe. I didn't bother to study. I figured I knew Europe pretty well. I got one out of five right. He chose the most obscure tidbits of information possible and gave no contextual clues.

The next quiz I did better, but still not perfect. Again, only five questions, but really, really specific and obscure geographic information. That class was the only class I ever put more than a few minutes into studying. I spent a full day while at work committing the covered material before each quiz and major test the rest of that semester. And for that I know all of the "Stans" and their capitals. I know that the capital of Yerevan is the capital of Armenia. I know that Eritrea and Djibouti are countries near the Red Sea. I am familiar with the Syr Darya of Kazakhstan. For the record, my college gpa was much more respectable than my high school gpa.

That class took a herculean effort on my part. I was used to absorbing information by passive osmosis. But my geo professor expected us to learn things outside of class that he never mentioned during class. It was a shocking experience for me. He taught me to learn on my own. Sink or swim style.

So when I read through the LEED GA sample questions I compulsively began rehearsing Asian geography in my head. It's going to be tough. But I'm going to do it.

Anyway, these things have little to do with cycling, but they are significant in what's going on behind the scenes for me these days. I'm moving slightly away from a future path toward transportation planning (or maybe just a widening of my path in general) and am directing my wheels toward general sustainability management and green building.

I'm sure some of your are snoring by now, and I promise I will get myself into more two-wheeled trouble soon and have many, many things to write about that are at least remotely transportation and cycling oriented. Six days of rest from riding should help me to snap back strong once I clear my system of the martian death flu we're all battling these days.

I'll leave you with this blurry photo (not of Big Foot) I took this morning on my ride in.

I'm 99% sure it was a peregrine falcon. It was perched on the railing alongside the Clear Creek Trail as I rode past. I stopped and it watched me indifferently as I took out my phone. But when I raised it to take the photo the bird took flight. I am shocked it turned out as clearly as it did.

Wednesday, February 8

Ex-Cyclist Finds a Soapbox

You remember when the Charlie Brown characters would get angry or frustrated and there would be a dark black squiggle in the thought-bubble over their heads? Yeah, I got one of those going on.

I carpooled again.

I've been trying. The last two nights I've gotten everything ready to ride, gone to bed feeling much improved and then I woke up the past two mornings feeling wretched. Double-whammy this morning: 13ºF not including windchill.

Another couple of days like this and I should start surfing craigslist for a used H2. Hang up my legband. Crush my bikes for scrap to dump in the ocean. Club a baby seal.

Well, carpooling is still better than buying that Hummer. Lord knows we don't have a place to park one in our 1950s driveway. The neighbor with the smart car might go into cardiac arrest.

On a happier note, at least for those who are gluttons for punishment, Transition Voice has posted an article/book review I wrote. If you have nothing better to do, no nails to clip, no engines to degrease, no Hummers to try and move off the lot today...check it out.

The piece is titled Seeing Berry's Wilderness Again. The book I wrote about is Wendell Berry's The Unforeseen Wilderness. The wilderness in question is Kentucky's Red River Gorge.

Back in the late sixties and early seventies there was a push for a dam on the Red River for flood control which would have inundated an area that is today a National Wild and Scenic River, a protected archaeological area, designated wilderness, a designated geological area and a huge recreational destination for much of the eastern US. The well known Senator William O. Douglas hiked along the banks of the Red River and an unofficial trail unofficially bears his name lo, these four decades hence.

Wendell Berry wrote The Unforeseen Wilderness to protest, to educate and to preserve. He strongly criticized unsustainable farming in the area, and turned the magnifying glass on unsustainable activities in the watershed as the reason for increased flooding dangers. He looked to the source of the problem and exposed the root of the matter for all to see. For many just believed a flooding river was to blame. Dam that river.

But Berry showed that it was man and his thoughtless and irresponsible activities that had changed the nature of the once wild river and had caused the river to silt up and overflow its banks. He showed the folly of building a lake for recreation when there was valuable landscape already there, providing all of the recreational needs that it should. He revealed the folly of building dear things in the floodplain, instead of on higher, more solid ground.

As I work toward furthering my education I am able to pull more and more out of this richly written book. Sustainability principles abound. Green building principles abound. It is still relevant, and in some ways more relevant today. What have we learned in the decades since the fight to "Stop the Dam?"

That unlimited growth is the only measure that matters? That while people fought to stop a lake that would have "created jobs" for the area and controlled flooding that even though the lake was prevented, no other solutions have been implemented in the area to counter flooding or the lack of job opportunity for the people of my native community. Land is still cleared on the ridges rimming the watershed and people still must look beyond the divide for employment.

The Red River Gorge area has unlimited potential in recreation and adventure tourism. Managed wisely, and foremost sustainably, that activity could help the region to thrive economically, socially and environmentally. Instead, the few dollars that come in do little to improve the quality of life for the residents and little to improve services and conditions for visitors. Potential is wasted. Vision is dim.

I would love to fire up a busload of stakeholders from that area and drive them down to Damascus, Virginia and show them what a small town can do with the natural resources it has at its disposal. And then a second busload, a third, until all the stakeholders saw great examples of how small communities took advantage of the landscape around them and in a responsible and beautiful way built something incredible.

There is no reason small-scaled agriculture and sustainable endeavors can't work there. There's no reason that the community cannot become more resilient and more robust. There is overlooked talent, strong-willed people, and a landscape that can sustain.

But I digress. These days I live in a different ecosystem, a different watershed. I am far removed from that place where I see potential sputtering, trying to ignite into an uncontrollable fire of opportunity.

My thought is: how can I fan the flames and warm the place where I grew up and where the greatest number of the people I love still live?

I can write.

Tuesday, February 7

Four to Six Inches of Lies

This is going to be short and sweet; just a momentary post to complain about meteorologo-fascists.

I felt better yesterday afternoon, and despite a forecast for light snow overnight I decided before bed that I would ride today. As I shut down the house for the night I looked out into the pinkly illumed (from light pollution) landscape and saw a dusting on the ground. But no more snow was falling. No big deal.

This morning I woke to at least four inches of snow. I flipped on the TV to see a brazen, bold, lying super-model-esque weatherperson talking about how this "storm" had caught everyone off guard.

Four inches in Arvada often translates to six in Golden. *Heavy sigh* Carpooling miles do not count toward bicycling miles. But my sickly body sighed in relief, while the sick, twisted masochist in me sighed in frustration. Suffering delayed.

I haven't been as diligent or as long-winded here on the blog of late. Part of that is because I haven't been riding as much, and its partly because there have been a lot of other things going on behind the scenes. I may divulge more of the backstage story later on; or I may not. I think some part of the "making of" will come out eventually. The short story is that while I'm working toward a professional certificate in Sustainability Management, I am also taking the first steps toward becoming LEED certified in some manner.

Confidence is high as a contemplate this future course. In fact, my self-confidence has never been higher. I finally feel as if I have some control of my own destiny, at least as much as Providence will allow.

Monday, February 6

That's Just Sick!

The finally tally was about 20 inches of snow. It started Thursday night, and as I previously posted, accumulated to a point that shut down much of the metro area. Friday we skied a little around the neighborhood, then my cold intensified, and by the time I finished my second shoveling session on Saturday morning I was in full-blown head cold mode. I slept some on Saturday in lieu of building a snow fort with my family, and then I lazed about all day on Sunday, feeling the worst I'd felt in almost a year I guess.

The piles of snow still linger, as does the cotton in my head, so I opted to carpool this AM and have sent out email feelers to catch a ride back to Arvada this PM.

While the rest is nice, this funk may knock a dent in my February mileage totals when its all said and done. We're supposed to get more "winter" weather in the short-term as well.

As long as my health improves I will go back to my normal routine, or as my co-worker say: "Being crazy."

An odd thing happened yesterday. Mandy found a Christmas ornament, still packaged, in our mailbox. One of our neighbors must have put it there. The packaging called it "Bicycling in the snow," and it was a newspaper boy standing next to a bike in the snow. Weird; but pretty cool.

Friday, February 3

Keep Your Nose Out of It Phil!

Six more weeks of winter! I told you the bill would come due. Darn scruffy rodent!

CU Boulder closed: no class.

Jeffco Government closed: no work.

School closed: no school.

We get an impromptu three day weekend. Whoo hoo!

Of course I am predicting at least six more inches of snow and at least six inches of the slikery stuff to remain on Monday as I point my front wheel southwest for another winter commute.

In the meantime I will continue to get over this cold I've been flirting with all week and plan our hippie dreams. It's nice to have a snowy background in which to enjoy the day off.

Thursday, February 2

Freakin' Groundhog Day

Okay, first month of the new year...379 miles. That's an improvement over January 2011 which clocked in at just over 363 miles. But nothing truly to write home about.

If I can keep up the momentum and try to beat each month's total from the year before then I might pull down a pretty big number come December 31, 2012.

I could care less what some scruffy rodent in New England says about's been mild here and I know our debt is coming due. The good news is that I'm scheduled for four credits of online classes and only two classroom sessions to complete so the chances (after tomorrow) that I'll be facing snowpocalypse on the same day as a 22 mile (one way) commute to Boulder will be diminished.

Of course tomorrow is another story altogether. I'm planning on taking the bus. We're predicted an upslope storm starting in the wee hours and lasting most of the day. Not conducive to cyclo-commuting more than a couple of miles.

Oh, this is my 701st post. I realized only today after my previous post that it had been the magical 7-0-0. Hurray! No prizes for anyone though. This is a free blog.

Wednesday, February 1

It's That Season Again...

...yes, winter cold and flu season. I called in "sick" on Monday, which was my birthday, and I truly didn't feel well when I woke up. After going back to bed for an hour or so I woke up feeling better, but Beanie and I just hung around the house, despite 60 degree temps.

I felt "better" yesterday, so I went in to work, got caught up on some stuff and opted to only hang in the pool at the rec center last night because I wasn't feeling 100%.

This morning I feel like I've been run over by a moto-fascist. I should call in. I feel unwell enough to justify it. I got ready, dragging my feet the whole time and five minutes after I should have left I pushed The One out the door. It was at least light out, which should have boosted my spirits somewhat, but as I slowly pedaled up my street I knew there would be no bike commute today.

So I'm writing this as I sit waiting on my carpool ride. Please understand if you don't see a new post for a couple of days. I've got another class in Boulder this coming Friday and I have a bit of reading to do for the class, so if I don't crank something out today or tomorrow it might be the weekend or Monday before I can post something of substance again.