Friday, November 30

Ramming Speed Friday: One More to Go

Previously I stated that on Minus I had to exceed a 20 mph average and on my other bikes only a 17 mph average to qualify for a Ramming Speed Friday. For inclement weather and 6 o'clock dark commutes I conceded that 17 mph would constitute a valid Ramming Speed Friday regardless of which steed I'd chosen.

My last day with Jeffco is next Friday. I'm certain I will ride, and I'm certain I will try to clock my best Ramming Speed Friday time ever.

After all, Ramming Speed Fridays were born in escapism. After long weeks laboriously reviewing permits I would fly home as fast as I could, trying to flee the cubicle, irate citizen, and all memories of them. As the light at the end of the tunnel brightens my escapist fantasies swell.

Tonight was my next to last potential RSF, so I made the best of it. Tonight was a 6 o'clock dark commute, 11.3 miles in 34 minutes...19.9 miles per hour!

I blew the 6 o'clock dark Ramming Speed Friday out of the water. I'll do my best next week to break my RSF record. My fastest Friday commute is 20.7 mph back in September. I've never cracked 22 mph, but I've come close. I pedaled 21.8 mph on July 16 of this year--a Monday--and again on October 16. But my all time fastest commute came on October 29th: 21.9 miles per hour.

My goal, next Friday, is to break the 22 mile per hour barrier.

Counting the Costs

The Curse of Winter Commuting

It's good that I'm leaving Denver as the commuting conditions become difficult. I've noticed ice forming on some of the lakes along my commute. And despite the unseasonable dry conditions it is almost December. While we may never see snow again the chances of bitter cold are pretty high.

Way back when, in December 2009, we decided to sell our second car and become a one-car family. That seems like it was so long ago. I've pedaled so many miles since then.

At first I was embracing a novelty. I faced bicycle commuting during the winter of '09-10 with naive bravado. That first cold season I drove quite a bit. I didn't hesitate to hesitate at the front door of our apartment in Lakewood, all dressed up in my bike garb, and then turn back into the warmth to grab my car keys.

When we moved to Arvada it was summer. I had no reasons to drive over riding, but by that next winter the kids had gone back to school (we'd been homeschooling) and Mandy returned to part-time work. The novel was replaced with the real. I became a dedicated full-time winter bicycle commuter in the '10-11 season.

I learned what it meant to ride when you didn't want to ride. I learned what it meant to suffer. And truthfully, I enjoyed that first winter. Not so much the '11-12 season. It was just painful. And thankfully there was much less snow last winter. Even so, I was not looking forward to another winter of riding in the cold and dark, plodding along when I didn't feel good, when my heart wasn't in it, when it seemed all motorists were out to kill me. I was losing my love for full-time year-round commuting.

I'm not saying it's bad. I'm not saying I wouldn't have gritted my teeth and continued on with grim stoicism. If I hadn't been facing this new career path I guess I would have just gone on as I had been. There had been no plans in the foreseeable future to buy a second car. Nothing was going to change our situation.

Come January I will be driving to and from work. Maybe once we settle into a place in Lexington near my new office I'll be able to overcome the practical hurdles and start working bike commuting back into my day. Initially it's just not going to be feasible. But once the opportunities begin to present themselves, please rest assured, I will choose the bike. I have all the tools and tricks I need to make bicycle commuting work in any environment, in any situation. It's something I've become good at.

On Down the Path

I kept applying for new jobs within easy commuting distance to our home in Arvada. Nothing was panning out. No interviews. Nothing. So I applied for this job 1,200 miles back the way we came from five years ago. I'm giving up a lot for this job. And I'll get to why I'm okay with that, but I just want to point out what this move is costing me. And to say nothing of the impact to my family...

I'm giving up a lifestyle I enjoy and can condone with no apologies. Going car-lite was one of the most positive things our family has ever done. It has changed our worldview, made us resilient, and has opened up all kinds of new possibilities in our lives. Just because I am giving up an easy opportunity for bike commuting does not mean we're going to stop riding our bikes for utility and fun. We'll always choose the bike when we can.

While I hate my current job, I do have a very bike-friendly workplace. There is a locker room with showers and covered outdoor bike parking though I've always been able to keep my bike in my cubicle. Yes, even the Ute and the Xtracycle. I'm giving that up.

I ride from a League of American Bicyclists bronze level bicycle friendly city into a gold level bicycle friendly city and then back at the end of the day. I can do the majority of my ride on a paved multi-use path and/or bike lanes. I see other cyclists commuting even on the worst days. There is a bike culture here. I'm giving that up.

This is the hard one...I can incorporate world class singletrack into my commute and "lose" only a few minutes to an hour. I can do 1,500 feet of climbing in the dirt before work on just about any given day if I plan ahead. And there's a lot of it, in various places around Golden, and there is a variety of types of trails. I'm giving that up.

Am I Crazy?!

You are obviously wondering why I'm giving this up. I'm still wondering why I'm giving this up, at least, on one hand I am.

In my new position I will bring my experiences—my knowledge, my background of always choosing the bike, my years of bike commuting—to the table. I'll hopefully be able to grow into my position, and grow my position into one where I can have some real influence on a region that is not as bike friendly, where there is not a strong bike culture, where people give you funny looks when you mention that you bike 10 miles to work one way each day. I'm hoping I'll be in a position to do some important work. I really believe I will. It might take time, maybe years, but I have the patience of Job.

I'm sacrificing some incredible things to work to bring the same types of things to a place that has fewer of them. And the time is ripe. There are lots of heartening things going on in my home state and in the region I'll be working. The right types of people are moving into influential positions. The mindset is changing, and the conditions are becoming optimal for amazing changes. I hope I can be right in the middle of it, and working to bring that all about. It's exciting, encouraging, and I'm finally finding the boost in my self-confidence I've needed for so long now.

In a way I'm giving up a lifestyle I love, but I hope in reality I'm just carrying the flame with me to a new (old) place. Hang with me, Dear Readers, if you will. I don't know exactly what we're going to see along this amazing journey, but that's all part of the experience, all included in the price of admission...

Monday, November 26

Hurry Up and Wait

There's so much I could write right now. I want to say so much. The reality is that it might be easier after we move to reflect and prognosticate about the future. Right now there's too much pressing down on us to get done in the next few weeks.

I need to put my energy into making this transition go smoothly for my family, and in saying our goodbyes, spending time with the family we've made here, and in preparing myself for a huge change in daily routine, and in my career perspective.

There is a part of me that just doesn't want to keep coming in to work. They've made another annoying change that I don't want to deal with for two or three weeks. Yeah, I've even started questioning whether or not I should stick it out until Mandy and the kids are done with school. I just want to be finished.

Truthfully, I'm bitter toward my current job. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I've fought against a lot of really detestable situations in the five years I've been here. I've stuck it out far longer than I had intended, or had expected. I've far exceeded my shelf life.

While it has been incredible to live in Colorado, I have come to the conclusion that my amazing life has little to do with where I go but what I carry with me.And so I continue on down my Path. But it's not only what I carry within, but also the traveling companions I have chosen to go with. My family is amazing, and as long as I have them I know I can do anything, be anything, and weather any storm.

Sunday, November 25

Shuffle It All

They offered. I accepted.

My last day with Jeffco will be December 14th. I'll start my new job as regional transportation planner for 17 central Kentucky counties after the first of the year.

I thought it was going to be a more difficult decision, but in the end, their enthusiasm to hire me overwhelmed my good judgment. Well, not really. But they were terribly enthused and it boosted my confidence.

The organization I'll be working for is quasi-governmental, for those in the Denver area it's much like DRCOG, and I won't be directly implementing transportation projects, but coordinating between local governments and state and federal funding sources.

For me, the opportunity is just what I've been looking for. Unfortunately, due to the unemployment situation in Colorado, and my lack of networking here, I haven't been able to find a similar opportunity that would allow us to stay in Colorado. In my current job I have stagnated and all doors for advancement and mobility have closed in my face.

Having said that, let me reiterate, this past five years has been wonderful for us. We've seen so much, been so many places, done so many things.

So here is the chuckly thing about the new job: it will involve a lot of driving. Commuting by bike may not even be practical. We'll see once I get there. But...and here is the big my new job I think I will potentially be in a position to eventually influence a lot of transportation policy in my home state and county. While personally I may have to give up my opportunity for bike utility and commuting, I will hopefully be able to create opportunities for so many more people to do so. And for me, that would make the sacrifice worth it.

In the recreational cycling realm, there are a lot of exciting things going on in my home state. There will be more to come on that in the weeks and months ahead.

Wednesday, November 21

Come On!

Here's the new bike:

It's a sporty bike. I like sporty bikes. If I were going to buy a bike right now, though, I'd buy:

1) Surly Krampus
2) Touring bike
3) Not a sporty bike

But that's okay. I like to go out and just ride and this is a good kind of bike to go on the road and put the miles behind you. It's a fun ride. I felt so fast!

It didn't hurt that I have a surplus of red blood cells coming from 5,400' to about 400'.

I knocked out 62 miles the first time I really rode the bike and had a great ride.

Monday, November 19

The Dogs of Powell County

New bike day. New to me anyway. I'm getting another hand-me-down bike for Christmas. And I'm perfectly okay with that. It's a Specialized Allez Elite.

Mandy and her mom planned on going out for the day and the kids were content to hang with my mom. Tom had to work today. So it was just me, the bike and miles of weekday quiet roads. I planned an ambitious 42 mile ride. I haven't ridden more than about 18 miles in a single ride in awhile.

Kentucky hills differ from Colorado mountains by being short and steep and coming at you over and over and over with little recovery where Colorado climbs just go on and on and on at a steady grade forever.

And dogs...dogs like to lurk about at the bottoms of Kentucky hills. Always the bottom.

I rode from Stanton to Clay City, over Pompeii to Morris Creek and then up North Bend to North Fork and into the Gorge. By then I knew I was going to be out 60 miles or better.

I climbed Sky Bridge hill. It's not the beast I used to think it. At that point there was no shortcuts to be had. I rode on out to Pine Ridge, picked up highway 15 and pedaled toward Stanton again.

I ended up riding 62 miles, putting me over 5,100 miles for the year, and shaking down the bike satisfactorily.

I owe it all to the dogs of Powell County. The lazy ones that didn't bother to chase me, the feisty ones that tried to make a snack of my ankles, the little one that almost experienced a pedal strike from an interesting angle, and even the two boxers in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere that I thought were going to take me down like a deer...dogs...I salute you.

After I got back from my ride Boone and I visited with a local celebrity. Joe Bowen has ridden his bike cross country twice on 14,000 mile trips. He's had an interesting life. And then we met another local cycling family. That was pretty cool.

I'm tired. We've still got a busy week ahead of us. Tomorrow is going to be interesting.

More to come...

Wednesday, November 14

Arg, Pain! Yes, Again

No, I didn't crash. My right wrist hurts. I don't think I did anything drastic to injure it. It seems like it is an office related injury. Like, using a mouse all the time, texting/writing on my phone, and using the touch pad on my laptop has irritated it.

Carpal tunnel syndrome? Maybe. Hope not.

Anyway, I think it's time I seriously scaled back my use of keyboards, touch screens and pads and gave my hands a rest.

Therefore, I am going to do my best to cut back post a week.

To be honest I haven't had much to write about recently anyway. I've been struggling to come up with relevant topics and I feel like the blog has become an afterthought most of the time. I do enjoy keeping it, and I intend to continue writing here. I think maybe I just need to let my ideas build up, resolve into clarity, and come out after some deliberation and stuff like that.

If I make the career change I had mentioned recently I'm sure my synapses will be firing like crazy in the weeks and months thereafter, but we'll deal with that if and when it happens. For now, my plan is to kind of go into hibernation mode. I'll still be here, but I won't be terrorizing the forest looking for honey all the time. Perhaps I'll do some photo blogging if I feel the urge to post.

I will make a concerted effort to post no less than once a week. For now let's shoot for Monday mornings. I think 10am MST is a good round number.

Tuesday, November 13

What's In A Number?

This afternoon the ole Pavement's Edge odometer clicked over 5,000 miles. I'm less than 100 miles away from an annual record (5,100.55) and I expect to get that before the month is out.

What does that number represent?

It's half of 10,000. It's 50 weeks of commuting 100 miles per week. It's fifty centuries. It's 8,046.72 kilometers. It's about what I can manage in a year living about 10 miles from work without investing a great deal of time on my bike and away from my family. Though admittedly this past year I did spend a great deal of time on my bike and away from my family training for Leadville. But my normal commute is definitely a limiting factor to higher annual mileage totals.

5,000 miles on a bike is a lot of time to think, to ponder, to scheme, and to see the world from a different perspective. I think of the soul crushing prospect of spending the same 5,000 miles sitting behind the wheel of a car, and I am glad of my choice.

I spent 5,000 miles working my heart and lungs and sculpting my calves and thighs this past year. I spent 5,000 miles composing asinine posts to slap up here on the back alley wall of the internet.

Another couple of interesting numbers that have aligned with my own personal stars recently...I have just passed 900 posts on this hyere blog and I have recently surpassed 16,000 miles ridden (3,200+ annual average) since the beginning of 2008.

Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Monday, November 12

Nothing to Write From Home About

Yeah, I'm one of those hated government employees that got Veterans Day off. So sue me. If only you knew...

I've worked on my novel today. I'm up to just shy of 27,000 words, and I can see that once I get this thing fleshed out it is going to be substantive. In fact, I was talking about it with my wife yesterday and said maybe I would truncate the story, and/or make it into two books.

What's funny is that as I write it I'm not terribly happy with where it's going. I mean, its going where i want it to, and it seems to be progressing organically, but I just want there to be more depth. I'm already rewriting in my head to give it more depth and meaning, but I'm abiding by the rules of NaNoWriMo and refraining from editing now. Oh how I want to!

I took tomorrow off as well. I want to ride some, but I may forgo the mountain biking fun and just stay home and write. I haven't decided.

I also apologize for the paucity of bikey things here. For whatever reason I've just not been inclined to write about cycling. I guess I need to go out and do some sweet jumps with my mountain bike. That would inspire me. Maybe I'll sneak up to Valmont in the morning. Or maybe I'll write. If I were a famous writer I could take more bike rides.

Grrr! Decisions!

Anyway, I did get a chilly ride in this afternoon. I rode up to school to pick up the Bean from Kindergarten, and then we drove Gump home. If it had been a little warmer I'd have just hauled her back on the X.

I must admit, I had a post all composed pontificating this potential career change coming up. Then I decided not to count my chickens before they've hatched. I'll spout on and on about that if and when I am offered the job. More on that in about a week.

Friday, November 9

Ramming Speed Friday: Countdown to the Unknown Edition

Depending on the weather I might pull off a RSF next week. Then Thanksgiving break will pass unrammed. After that we'll know one way or the other if we're moving or staying.

Either way I'll dodge bad weather in early December (probably) so it'll be hit and miss during the holiday season.

The really bad weather usually comes after the first of the year. I'm not suspending Ramming Speed Friday...I'm just saying I have no idea if it will be a regular feature here over the next few months.

Not only did I manage a 6 O'clock Dark Ramming Speed Friday (19.65 mph!) but I also nabbed KOM for the Strava segment "US 6 - Illinois Descent Into Golden" and got my personal third best time on "Ford Street."

After that it was just too dark to really crank. I had the Laser cranked to maximum Real Genius power. It was still just too dark to be plying the Clear Creek Trail at 20+ mph. There were too many bike ninjas and walker ninjas. I wish all my ninjas would wear some kind of blinky illumination.

Have a great weekend!

Enjoying the Ride

This past week I rode my mountain bike all week until this morning. I enjoyed riding it. Like I said yesterday, I've been trying to revisit my favorite haunts in a whirlwind blitz.

Last night when I got home I stowed The One in the shed and pulled Minus out. I got 'er ready for this morning, thinking ahead to a potential Ramming Speed Friday, and started looking forward to a road bike commute.

I say all this in the midst of a frothing-at-the-mouth obsession with the Surly Krampus. Yeah, I'm kind of a manic cyclist. Fat, skinny. Skinny, fat.

I really dig riding my 26 year old 14sp, steel-framed road bike. I was going to ride up Lookout Mountain before work this morning. I had it fully in mind to do the 6 mile, 1,700' climb right up out of Golden. But when I got to town I just didn't have it in me. Maybe I'm still getting over the funk I had earlier in the week. Maybe it's just been a long week. Maybe it was the backpack.

Tonight I'll be ramming my way home in the dark. For safety's sake I'm going to bend the rule a tad and say a valid 6 o'clock dark Ramming Speed commute is 17mph or better.

Thursday, November 8

Er, Fascists

As it will come out soon enough...I'm in the process of saying goodbye to Colorado.

Nothing is definite yet, but I have applied for a job that would essentially make me the de facto transportation planner for my hometown and county. And then some... They're interested in me. Enough that they were going to pay for a plane ticket to have me come interview. Over Thanksgiving break I'll find out for sure.

So this throws our lives into turmoil; or, at least for now, it puts our lives on the brink of being in turmoil. The true turmoil will come if they offer me the job and the numbers make sense. For now there's just a lot of nailbiting.

If this comes about it means that by the beginning of 2013 we will leave Colorado only to return on some potential future vacations. It is bittersweet in that we do love living here but we also see the possibilities of making this change. We have--as someone close to us recently said--amazing lives. I have, however, concluded that our lives are amazing because of who we are (incredibly humble people) not where we are.

It has been a surreal five years. But our minds have been stretched to accept new realities and new possibilities. It has been a fantastic opportunity for us and that experience will not be wasted no matter what comes about during the turkey slaying season.

For me, life has always been an adventure, and I eagerly welcome any new scheme with open arms. It's been hard for me to reign in my impulsiveness to soften the effects on my family. I assure you in this matter we have discussed every angle. This is no impulsive decision.

So in case this wildfire gets out of control and sweeps us into a new era of our lives (it already has) I have been trying to say my goodbyes.

On Election Day I rode Alderfer/Three Sisters with Jon. My very first mountain biking experience in Colorado was at Three Sisters. I unloaded the bike off the truck and the very next day I subjected the Cannonball to the indignity of being hauled on a car to Evergreen and with stars in my eyes I clumsily cranked my way to the summit of Evergreen Mountain. From that moment forward I was hooked on singletrack. It took awhile before I fully immersed myself in mountain biking, but it was a done deal at that point.

I sneaked over South Table Mountain the very next morning (yesterday) on my way to work. While I would miss my dawn patrol circuits on the mesas, I couldn't NOT get in one more good ride while the weather was still good (can you believe this is November?!) so I risked being a little late to the office and headed up into the prairie sky to do my favorite STM loop.

It seems the double track road has been graded recently. So instead of packed dirt I got loose gravel grinding. Well, okay, that sucks, but I still got the trails. Nope. I reached the turn off for my favorite user-defined, unofficial mesa-top trail and found wooden barriers and an erosion blanket over the trail itself. It seems Open Space has made an attempt to close off the unsanctioned fun up on my favorite island in the sky.

I'm not proud, but I rode past the barrier and the straw blanket and picked up the nice dirt ribbon a few yards beyond. The realization that the trails were being shut down filled me with melancholy. It shouldn't have because there are literally hundreds of miles of good singletrack along the Front Range. I guess it's just because I discovered it on my "goodbye" ride, and that particular loop was one of my regular pre-work diversions, that it hit me a little too hard.

I continued out the loop I had intended to ride. It's more technical that I have really considered it in the past, and comparing it to Three Sisters I think it's actually far better quality than I had ever given it credit for. I mean, I love that ride, but I guess I thought I enjoyed it so much just because it was proximate and convenient. Now I know it's because it's really just a good ride.

I came across another barrier and erosion control attempt as I regained the "official" trail. Of course I wanted to go on across to another fun trail that has some screaming bomb-run drops off some big piles of dirt. Again, I skirted what was permissible and took my potentially last ride on that trail.

Then I rode on out and dropped down to Quaker Street and pedaled on in to work. The feeling of melancholy didn't really leave me, and I don't guess I expect it to any time soon. I surprised myself and made it in to the office with just enough time to get showered and into my cubicle.

Those trails on South Table are really fun, really good, and I just can't see a good reason for OS to close them. I'm sure they've been there for years and years. They follow old two track roads for the most part. It's not like anything has really changed since they came into being. Whatever. I don't like change that takes away a good thing.

In the context of South Table I may not be saying "goodbye," but instead "good riddance." I can't be too harsh on the Open Space-o-fascists though. They do build and maintain some phenomenal trails. I hope they model their future efforts on those at Apex Gulch and start phasing out their notoriously difficult-to-navigate switchback waterbars. Jon and I waddled over a few of those at Three Sisters. Some were rideable, some were just stupid.

Updates on this career situation will follow. I hesitate to share this, especially because I have no assurances at this point. I've already had one local opportunity fall through (I'm tornly bitter*), and my desperation to get free of my current sentence is growing. Having said that, I'm really only latching on to this life ring opportunity because it would be incredible even if I were not completely disgruntled with my current situation. It's the career track I want to be heading down.

Maybe this is all for naught. It's entirely possible I won't be offered the job, and then we'll carry on in Colorado until I find something better here. Maybe I'm being melodramatic for nothing.

Of course, for those of you that regularly follow this blog there are some questions.

A) What about your obnoxious Leadville obsession? The show will go on.

B) Wait, but how will you train effectively at sea level, without the magnitude of climbs and distances that you're used to? Carefully. Intensely. By racing the Mohican 100 in Ohio in June. By inspiring myself astride a sparkly new Surly Krampus come spring.

C) How will you deal with the altitude next August? Drugs. Hydration. Sheer willpower.   

These are questions that you should not concern yourself with, Dear Readers, as they keep me up at night even now, before they are relevant. So relax, enjoy the ride. I think I'm going to try. If I don't puke.

* The job that fell through was a transportation planner position that they reportedly wanted to fill with someone with an engineering background, even though the department is already full to the brim with engineers. I'm annoyed I didn't get an interview, but somewhat relieved that I'm not going to be the lone right-brainer in a left-brain dominated pond.

Wednesday, November 7

So Much For Democracy

I could get all conspiracy theorist all up in heah. I could say the election was rigged (it was), I could say the Pope is behind it all (he is), I could tell you that corporations rule the world (they do), but I won't.

As I watched the election "unfold" like a big ole road map last night it became painfully clear that Mittens Rmoney just didn't buy enough raffle tickets.

But it looks like Obama did his part to support those college students at Electoral. Wonder if he won anything good...

I still don't know how Mitt the Paranoid Android didn't win Colorado. Based on the number of yard signs alone he should have won by a landslide. As I traverse urbia and sub-urbia daily I am convinced that the sub-urbia type places are predominately republican in nature, which is what inspired my new sub-heading title for this blog: You Drive Like a Republican.

Relax, all of you, red and blue, my candidate was not elected either. I wrote in Fatty for president. So I feel your pain.

I've adopted this motto/manifesto mainly due to the proliferation of Rmoney/Ryan and Joe Coors stickers plastered to the backs of the hulking SUVs that careen past me as I try to safely navigate the metro area.

My second choice for a new tag line was: Hang Up and Drive for similar reasons. Well, not the "for similar reasons" part.

Bo is still our Commuter-in-Chief. I hope he handles the next oil spill in a more assertive (read: beserker rage) manner. Maybe he can now throw caution to the wind and oust some corporate stooges? Doubtful. Those fascists at Trek will never release their iron grip on the US economy.

Who am I kidding? I'm a closet liberalitarian. I voted primarily for any candidate that openly endorsed bringing back the horse and buggy as the SOV of choice for sub-urbia-ites.

My hope is that the post-carbon apocalypse will occur before the next round of political ads start showing up on TV.

Tuesday, November 6


I met Jon at the upper lot at Alderfer/Three Sisters this morning. Surprisingly the temperature was mild above 8,000'. I say surprisingly because I didn't check the weather. I just dressed for cold. If I'd been a more astute observer of a televised weather forecast--any televised weather forecast--I may have realized I was overdressing/preparing for our ride.

"What do you want to do?" Jon asked.

"Let's do as much as we can," I replied. And we set off for the Mtn Muhly trail.

I seem to be rid of my cold, but my body is still protesting my non-stop behavior. I didn't have loads of energy. After the first bombing descent (much slower than usual for me) we climbed up to the far point of Muhly and I actually walked a few yards near the top.

Three Sisters has a good mix of easy and moderate scenic trails, technical singletrack, and grinding double track. The setting is just amazing. The upper trailhead sits in a meadow with a stunning view of the Mount Evans massif to the west, Elephant Butte, and Evergreen Mountain to the south.

The view up there sure beat the view of the politickers on the corner of Wadsworth and 80th in Arvada this morning as I took the family up to school (they, unfortunately, did not have the day off :() Joe "I hate the environment" Coors himself was there as we drove past.

Oops! Did I get all political there for a second?

Anyway, I'm going to try and take my family up there really soon before it gets snowy and cold. From the upper trailhead there are some fun and very kid-friendly trails.

Monday, November 5

Radical Pre-election Free Association

Yeah, so, tomorrow is election day. I voted early so tomorrow is like Election Day for me. Holiday. Not holy day.

I didn't vote one party or the other, and, as I had previously threatened, I wrote in Ron Paul for president.

I have been accused of throwing my vote away, but I am content with my choice because it was just that, and when everything goes to hell in a handbasket if/when we enter Obama's no-repercussion second term or Mittens "Roy Batty" Rmoney's first and last apocalyptic term I cannot be blamed by either camp for being a part of the problem.

Locally I typically always try to vote balance into the system; not one political ideal over another.

I do have religious beliefs that I don't want to be trodden on too heavily, but I harbor no illusions that the republicans in any way represent what I believe in or hold dear. I believe they have hijacked my beliefs and forced them into unholy marriage with capitalism. That I cannot abide.

But I can't throw in with the liberal camp either. So I hold steady, not in the center, but in my own little cave in an undisclosed political region. If I told you what I consider myself you'd probably just take it the wrong way. So I keep that to myself.

Anyway, as many cyclo-commuters and others have been saying recently: 6 o'clock dark sucks! Not only did my shift at work change, putting me at 5:30 getting out of the office instead of 4:00, but I've been sick through the time change and I'm just all messed up. Daylight savings time is a capitalist plot to knock everyone off kilter for no good reason. It should be abolished forthwith. I would suffer another immediate time change if we could go back to the way it was over this next weekend and then never change the clocks forward or back ever again. Amen.

I've been riding Minus a lot lately, and I'm really enjoying just cranking hard on the road bike. Today, despite not feeling 100%, I just blazed all over the western metro area. After work I sped home, and then up to Westminster for P/T conferences. I did 19.8 miles in just over an hour through urbia and sub-urbia. Pretty good considering...

There is a big secret I want to share, but I'm going to prudently refrain for the time being. Once everything is known I'll tell the whole sordid story. For now, let that be a burr under your saddle.

Saturday, November 3

All I Want For Christmas Is...

...A Surly Krampus!!!

I was feeling considerably better today. I got the okay from my medical department (who had plans to stay home and bake and can and take a ride to town on her Ute) to go up to Buffalo Creek for the Surly/Salvagetti Fat Bike Demo.

At noon I headed west up 285 and arrived just as the Surly guys (not too surly actually) were setting up. I was one of the first few to get a demo bike and I struck out hard west on the Colorado Trail for dirtier climes. Before I left I oohed and ahhed as I handled the bike around the parking area. It was lighter than it seemed like it should be, and initially it rode very well.

I realized something today: I'm a clumsy mountain biker. I'm not gumby, I'm not unskilled, I'm just clumsy. I take up a lot of trail, and I think most of the time I'm lucky no one else is coming the other way.

Right off the bat I was impressed with how the Krampus handled the gnarly decomposed granite (of the Pikes Peak variety.) The 29x3 tires found purchase where my narrow 26x2 would have squirrelled right out from under me and left my big-boned frame wrapped around a pine tree.

 Infamous decomposed granite and fat tires go well together

At first I was just cruising along over some easy rollers that trended downward. It was a nice packed surface, and I found I could crank along at least as fast as I could on my current MTB. The Knards rolled over roots like a steamroller over Christmas elves.

Look out Buddy!

I crossed back over the main road and began descending the Shinglemill Trail. I still hadn't encountered any technical terrain, but that changed as I passed through a stand of boulders and the trail twisted tight and blind. I was able to maneuver the chubby bike through it all, and then continued on down to the junction with the Morrison Creek Trail.

I met a couple on mountain bikes there. They oogled the fatbike. I had to admit it wasn't mine. I proceeded to tell them about the demo, and they groaned in misery. They'd pedaled up from Pine Valley Open Space and had too far to go to return to take a detour out to the Surly basecamp, but they wanted to try out a fatbike.

I bid them a good day and dropped onto Morrison Creek. I was finally on a fast downhill and I tried to really let the bike go. I found it very forgiving at high speed. At one point I couldn't make a turn and left the trail at 25+ mph and what would have been a disaster on my skinny bike was a fun bounce over logs and rocks until I managed to get back in the trail.

 So. Fat.

I discovered as I floated over some jaggedness in the trail that I really like the amount of travel and rebound the tires alone provided versus that of the front suspension on my Cannondale. I also liked having the rigid fork when trying to plow over high roots and rock obstacles in the trail. I found that not having the fork travel seemed to help me power over stuff I didn't expect to get over.

Soon I was down to the valley bottom on the two track. I cruised along happily for a short jaunt to the bottom of the Shinglemill Trail, which I turned onto and began climbing back up the long slog to the Little Scraggy Trailhead.

The 1x10 setup was unfamiliar to me, but I found that it suits my singletrack riding style very well. I was able to go as fast on flats and downhills as I wanted, and I was able to pass riders on conventional MTBs (3x9) as I climbed up the Shinglemill Trail. The downside was I was cranking harder than usual, and not able to spin, so my lungs went into overload and I blew up about halfway up the climb and had to stop and get my breath back. The other riders didn't catch me though, and I was back on and climbing within a minute.

The bike I rode only had a 32t "granny" gear so I ended up standing on my pedals frequently as the trail continued climbing up and up. I found out that with the torque I was creating and the wide tires I lost traction in the loose stuff on the steeper pitches. That could have been mitigated with either a lower granny or perhaps a lower PSI. Regardless, I managed to ride everything except one tight turn that I had stopped below to take a photo.

Finally I was over the worst of Shinglemill, but already jonesing to ride it again. I continued up to the main road and crossed over. The section of Shinglemill between the road and the Colorado Trail is steep with roots and rocks to crawl over. I finally got to see how the bike clawed it's way up more technical, steep terrain. I was feeling beat, but when I yanked on the pedals the little green mule bucked up the hill.

Back on the Colorado I finally got to open it up again, and managed to get my breath back for a strong finish. I was finally passing a lot of other demo riders and they all had big fat grins on their faces. I imagined I had a similar grin on my face too.

At the Surly tent I reluctantly gave the guys their bike back. I really wanted to just ride off into the sunset on it. Wow! That was a lot of fun!

Pizza on wheels ;)

I hung around and enjoyed the ambiance for a bit until Basic Kneads served up a piping hot pizza. I was on the waiting list to ride a Moonlander but ran out of time. I needed to get back to Arvada.

It was okay. I got to ride the Krampus and that was the reason I went up to Buffalo Creek today.

I could see becoming very comfortable riding on fat tires on singletrack. In fact, I hope to be very comfortable riding fat tires on trails in the near future. After climbing up out of Buffalo Creek and cruising along on the Colorado Trail I started thinking with a 2x10 setup the Krampus just might be a superb bike for Leadville. I'd had reservations about riding a fat bike in a 100 mile MTB race, but I think it might just be a really good idea!

Thanks SURLY and thanks SALVAGETTI for an awesome ride!!!


I went back and corrected a few things. I'm not entirely happy with this post because apparently I wrote it in a head-cold induced fog. We'll let it stand as is though. 

The Surly--Salvagetti Fat Bike Demo in Buffalo Creek


Friday, November 2

Should Have...

...taken a sick day.

I got up this morning and got ready. I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel utterly wretched either. I went through my whole morning routine, pausing momentarily to chug some DayQuil, and finished out my pre-ride standard operating procedure.

By the time I left I was looking forward to a nice easy commute on my bike through the clear morning air.

It wasn't that exactly.

Oh, it was clear! It was a beautiful morning, the temperature was around 50F, and traffic was light. But "easy" the ride was not.

I had no energy and no motivation to keep moving forward. I considered calling in sick and turning around and beat feet home. One of my coworkers is out on vacation and one is leaving early today. That leaves just me on the counter, sick, dealing with an understanding public for five hours. Never let it be said I'm not a team player because I should have called in this morning.

Not only will I potentially infect a large number of people with whatever funk I have, but I'm not even planning on making an attempt at being effective at my job today.

How's that for being a model employee. I feel that funked up today.

I texted my wife back and let her know I had, in fact, made it okay. Not only had I forgotten to text her, but a half hour after I arrived at work Strava was still running happily along on my phone. I let Mandy know I wasn't feeling good and she replied asking if there was anything she could do.

I did something I almost NEVER do: I said I might just have her come pick me up if I didn't feel better this afternoon.

I didn't come right out and ask though. I'm still holding out hope ill get over this thing fast and be energetic for a Ramming Speed Friday.

Thursday, November 1

NaNoWriMo: Prelude

Today starts the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as it's commonly known. I'm participating, and have begun my alternate history dystopic fiction novel. The working title is I Used to Ride and I still don't have a name for my protagonist.

The story is not about cycling, though some bicycle touring will appear later on in the story. I probably won't update much here on the blog, but you never know. I might be cranking along so well I don't have time to blog and need to summarize the story as it evolves to have filler here. We'll see.

In case I do end up rambling on about it here, let me give you the official pre-written summary (beginning with the backstory):

The original idea sprang from the thought: what would the world be like if the US interstate highway system had never been built?

To get my story idea from that question I worked back in time to what I saw as the most likely point in US history that could have changed that reality, and then I worked forward again to modern times and attempted to frame what modern America would be like.

The point of divergence from our history is the assassination of General Smedley Butler. After Butler is killed Douglas MacArthur steps up to lead the Bonus Army into the Business Plot. FDR is taken out of power and MacArthur is appointed to the newly created position of Secretary general of the United States. The US never enters WWII and is an economic ally to the Axis powers. The US never becomes the world power it is in our timeline and patterns itself after the Nazis and the Italian fascists.

The story picks up with the young protagonist working in an undesirable job in a Midwestern industrial city (Dayton, Ohio to be exact). He's fed up but trapped. He wants out. Finally he comes to the conclusion that his best bet is to move south to his extended family's farm in rural Kentucky where he discovers a different world, free from the fear of the Legionnaires, free from the oppression of an industrial society, and hopefully free from the threat of being outed as a reluctant political dissident. But in his new world he discovers a reality he never knew existed.

It's not too late! You can start your novel today!