Monday, December 31, 2007

2007

Twelve months ago I started my effort to Race Green in 2007, with goals of trying to raise awareness about global warming, present some ideas and ways to reduce individual impact on the environment and raise some money for the Environmental Defense Fund, an organization that works with business, government and science to “find practical environmental solutions”. So after a year how did I do (being this is the time for 2007 in review posts on the web)?

Here are some stats that may give you an idea of my work. I rode my bike 6,000+ miles in the year. Of those miles about 2,000 were commuting miles, that is miles many people would have driven. I rode through January of 2007 when Denver streets were ice packed for weeks on end because of blizzards. During that time I had fenders on and rode on major streets which had less ice and obstacles. This clearly helped the environment as “Cutting a 20 mile trip out of your schedule each week can reduce your global warming pollution by more than 1,200 pounds a year and save you over $100 in gas expenses.” (Environmental defense web site) I also switched grocery bags from plastic to reusable canvas. I figure I used at least 5 plastic bags a week so a net savings of 250 bags. It takes an equivalent amount of energy to produce 14 plastic bags as it does to drive a mile, so some carbon reduction there too.

I also went out and tried to do more than change my personal lifestyle during the year. I met with staff from Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s office on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters, I went to a local school and discussed Earth Day and what each student could do to lessen there impact (including a portion on riding their bikes and bike safety). Finally I raised over $1,000 for Environmental Defense.

Overall I’d say it was a good year. In 2008 I’m going to keep it going. I’m starting a full team for racing and environmental awareness. The team is going to promote riding and the multiple benefits bike riding provides (health benefits and environmental benefits). I’ve already got an after-school program lined up at my son’s school to get kids out riding their bikes and hopefully more will come. I’ll still be out racing and trying to get fast too. Though riding fast and winning are tougher to accomplish then raising awareness the racing is fun.

Anyway don’t leave just because 2007 is over, I’m keeping things going, maybe a slightly different path but still going.

BIKE FOR SALE: A shameless plug for my bike YETI ASR Large I've got it for sale...drop me a comment if you're interested

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Post Grad Reading Level

So I was checking out SLY's blog the other day and it had a link to tell you the reading level of your blog, well I must be a genius because mine came back as Post Grad reading level. For the few of you who actually read my blog consider yourselves highly educated people. I guess I should work on dumbing down my content, make the reading level a little easier. I assume if I did that more people would visit the site and I’d get more comments.

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans



All I’ve got to say is this feature has got to be inaccurate.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Base Training with Eddy

Base miles, finally a chance to ride more outside. Today it was cold (30ish) and some wet roads from snow yesterday, but 2.5 hours outside in the cold is better than any time inside so I went out.

East of Denver is a little town called Watkins, one of my favorite rides for 2-3 hours of base miles. Roads quickly turn into farm roads, little traffic and rollers the whole way, in general a pleasant ride. But one problem, farm roads mean farms. Farms mean farm dogs. So today as I was spinning along I catch an object coming from my right and hear the growling of a mean a$$ looking dog trying to catch me for an afternoon snack. Just like in the scene from American Flyers where Kevin Costner takes his brother training with Eddy, this dog is on me. I sprint as hard as possible, look down and still see the dog right there, shift to the 12 (remember this is early season base training I shouldn't be in the 12) and give it another kick. Finally I get away from the dog, not sure how but glad he didn't get me for an afternoon snack.

When I lived in Iowa I road some with the Des Moines Cycling Club, one guy carried a little gun (pistol) to take care of dogs like these, which seemed more rampant in Iowa than in Denver. Not sure that was the best solution to the problem, but then again we never did extra sprints either.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wow, Out of Circulation

I've been missing for awhile so here is a quick rundown:

Thanksgiving - stabbed by my sister in the eye (with her fingernail) couldn't see for a week
New York City - Business trip, cool town but I can only handle it for a few days
December - Cold and snowy way too many miles riding in the basement of the trainer
Work - time for writing reviews, man that sucks

The good news is I'm riding some and work should taper off soon.

On another note, the presidential primaries/cacuses start soon. If you are at all serious about the direction America is going look a little deeper than the famed candidates. I'm a hippie liberal who wants an eco-friendly candidate. I've been donating money to two people Chris Dodd http://chrisdodd.com/ and Joe Biden http://www.joebiden.com/home. I hope giving these guys a little will allow them to keep their voices in the debate. Seriously I don't care who you vote for, but make sure you listen to all the voices out there, give a little money to the lesser known candidates to help them as in many cases they have the best ideas and best potential to change.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Racing

I spend a lot of time reading other cycling blogs, there are way too many out there to mention, but this time of the year I see a theme: why? how long? what is the reward? Some of these guys will post about not knowing how much longer they'll race, why they race etc. Each year about 50% of the people who post about why don't race the next year. Burn out I guess.

There are two kinds of bike racers (really bikers in general) those who ride the bike because it is fun and those who ride the bike because they love it. Often times it is difficult to tell the difference between the two. I'd venture to say many people thought Lance Armstrong loved the bike, but I think he thought it was fun. He did it (really) well and for a long time. He trained in terrible conditions, but it seems now he isn't riding any more. That to me is a guy who thought it was fun (and also knew it was hard).

I fall into the love it group. How long will I race? Till the day I die. I may not be very good. Hell I savour mid-pack finishes if they were an improvement over last year, but I also savour riding home from work, in the dark winter, with snow falling. For me riding is more than proving I can finish a race, or finish a race faster than someone else. To me riding is, well in so many ways, me. I define myself as a father, a husband and a biker. Strangely I've been a biker longer than the other two but those are the three things that matter.

Me I'll race next week, next year and until I can't race any longer. For now I'm hoping for some snow, so I can ride home from work in the dark with the snowflakes dancing off my lights.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Greenhouse Gases

Well over the past few days I've read a lot of troubling news about greenhouse gases. It seems that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is significantly higher than previous "worst case scenarios" had predicted for our current point in time. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_7271938. It seems Denver and Mayor Hickenlooper are trying to take some action, but local change can only do so much. Clearly we as individuals must work to enact change and force state and federal programs to assist.

Another article I read earlier this week stated that recycling in rural areas doesn't make sense because of the costs associated with transport and the issues tied to getting materials to recycling centers. It seems to me multiple benefits exist for rural recycling programs and the government should provide funding to help. First is protection of the environment; however, there are other benefits, specifically job and economic related. If the local/state/federal government would offset costs associated with local rural recycling plants there would be job growth available in areas that currently are under employed. The recycling centers would cost taxpayer money but the two-fold benefits of jobs and environmental sustainability seem to make the costs worth it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's on

The team is a go for 2008. I'm still working out details, but for now I've got Pedal Pushers helping the team out with stuff, including a hook-up on Orbea mountain bikes. Still working with a few other prospective sponsors but in 2008 Racing Green will be expanding. The team name is changing, Racing Green MTB, and the mission is expanding beyond raising awareness of global warming, but many of the concepts will remain.

For 2008 Racing Green's mission is:

Racing Green MTB is dedicated to empowering people to create a more sustainable lifestyle, both environmentally and personally, through the bicycle. Through community outreach and mountain bike race participation Racing Green MTB is committed to increasing knowledge about: human impact on the environment and providing practical measures to reduce individual impact through cycling and other lifestyle modifications and help individuals create a more sustainable health filled personal lifestyle.

I'm already working on outreach programs with a couple of local schools and more ideas are being worked on. Part of my concerns now center around getting some cash sponsors to help with the outreach. Even with dedicating my time for free most events require some costs to get things rolling. Hopefully the cash sponsors will come soon.

Jersey designing is under way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

commuting

Now is the time of year when bike commuters earn their strips. It is starting to be cold and dark during portions of the commute, not December bad but enough that numbers are way down. During the summer the building I work in is over run with bike commuters, probably 3-4 dozen bikes a day parked on the racks. This summer it got so crowded the building bought two new racks and planned to implement "parking permits" for bikes. This is a cool problem to have if you ask me. It means a lot of people are using the bike as an alternative way to get around, reducing their environmental impact and having a great time riding their bikes.

Now it is mid October and (in Denver at least) if you need to be to work around 7:30 that means commuting in while it is still dark. Bust out the headlamp, put on the flashing red rear light, long sleeve jacket, full finger gloves etc. The rides home can be nice, shorts and a short sleeve jersey, but riding in is cold and slightly dangerous with it being tough for cars to see you. This morning there were 5 bikes parked at my building. I'm willing to bet in the middle of December there will be 2-3, just a few hard core crazy riders trying to sneak in every mile possible.

I'll ride through the winter again, skipping the big snow days but not much else. Last year in our big blizzard run I rode a lot. Bad roads, dark, wet conditions; it wasn't easy but I wouldn't pass it up. Last year we got our first snow in mid October and I had to ride home in the dark with no glasses. I could barely see the entire way home with snow blowing in my face, no snow is predicted yet, but it will come soon. I can't wait for the ride.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brief Notes

Independence Hall from a distance.

Spent part of last week on the east coast. Had a little time to look around Philadelphia, got in trouble at Independence Hall for cross the street (to get close to the building) prior to the official opening. I guess park security doesn't like that.


Overall Philadelphia is not a great town, but it was cool to look around the historic area. Here are some pictures of the graveyard Ben Franklin is buried in:


All the hotels I stayed in had low wattage, eco-friendly light bulbs. Very cool and I've taken to leaving a note on the comment card about the lights, either thanking the hotel or asking them to change.


Ade and I went out of town for our 10th anniversary, down to colorado springs. Had a relaxing night at a B&B, walked around Garden of the Gods some. Very cool area.


The team is looking promising, figuring out all the details on bikes, more on that later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

East Coast

So I'm on the east coast right now, Philadelphia and Princeton NJ. Crazy driving is one thing I've accomplished, making a lot of right hand turns out of the left lane, left hand turns out of the right. Detours miles long, all sorts of fun. The drive to Princeton lacked much adventure, but we did see this cool bridge. The picture isn't very clear as I was on the phone to someone and hung up quickly to take the picture, but the bridge says (in huge letters) "Trenton Makes the World Takes". I was unaware Trenton was the epicenter of the world, but I guess I know now.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cyclo-Cross

So after a 10 day break off the bike I decided to race cyclo-cross this season. Not a full schedule, but enough to force myself to actually work at staying in shape. Planning on an opening race on September 23, then a few in October, and a pretty full schedule in November. Hopefully the racing will go well.

I've been working on putting together a team for next season, taking Racing Green to the next level. I have a few people interested in riding and hopefully can get some sponsorship dialed in. If I can get a sponsor the team will be on, if not I don't think I'll run a team without sponsorship. I'm hoping it works out as the teams mission will be to promote riding the bike as an easy means of sustainable living. I'm planning on working with a couple local schools to teach kids about riding and how it can be a fun, easy and non-environmentally impacting way to get around. Hopefully some sponsors will want to be a part of that. I should have more details by the end of next week.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Criminal Activity



We went up to Sheridan, Wyoming for Labor Day weekend. We met Ade's dad at the half way point between Denver and where he lives. It had been a while since we had seen him so it was nice to visit. Seamus loved it, he has this strange ability to recognize people who can (will) spoil him and warm right up to them, even if it has been a long time since he has seen them.




Grandpa Al wanted to take Seamus fishing so off we went. Seamus young enough not to need a license, Al and Ade smart enough to buy one and me, well just plain stupid. Things were going along well enough with the whole fishing thing (other than our inability to catch fish) when the Game Warden walks up asking to see our fishing licenses (which I didn't have). Long story short, an $11 license cost me $110 in fines for not having one.




Ade did catch a fish, but we succeeded in killing it before we could "catch and release". Note to fish, when we are around be careful. If you happen to stumble onto our line you are SOL.




On another note, when I got home I went to the grocery store and saw this.
Our grocery store has just started a bin to recycle plastic bags. Every time I walk in it is full or overflowing. I guess they didn't realize the demand from eco friendly shoppers. I hope people are reusing the bags a few times first to get the full value out of them, but glad to see they are getting recycled. Don't forget more than grocery bags can be recycled, for example the plastic bags newspapers come in, bread bags and others can be recycled. Just look for the number 2 or 4 on the bag and you can recycle.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Road Rash

One of the main concerns/issues I hear about commuting by bike is the risk, like being hit by a car or just a simple crash. Well I commute a lot, rode through January and February this year when the road were packed with a couple of feet of snow in the dark. Rode last October home from work, a blinding snow storm with no glasses and could barely see. I've commuted on the bike for 10+ years and yesterday had only my second crash ever while commuting.

The first crash was 10 years ago in June, on bike to work day when I worked about 20 miles from home. Leaving the office during a light rain (after a heavy rain) I crashed and hurt my hip. Swelled up to about the size of a grape fruit. No crashes since then while commuting. Probably thousands of miles just pure commute distance (not counting the "extended routes" taken to get in training) and only one crash in ten years.

Yesterday's crash happened just after riding with Seamus to school. The front wheel got caught in a gap between black-top and cement near the curb. I got cut up on the left side (hip, elbow, shoulder, knee etc.) but rode into work the rest of the way no problem. Sleeping last night sucked, but what can you expect. I didn't commute in today, but that was already planned because we had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon. Tomorrow I'm taking off and riding big. But you know what, I'll commute on Tuesday. One crash every ten years is worth it. The stress relief of riding, the environmental savings, the pure joy of riding a bike while looking at a bunch of people stressed in a car. The risks commuting by bike are minimal if you are aware and safe. Yesterday was a decade long wait between commuting crashes. How many car accidents have you been in during that same period?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mission Accomplished

Well, I'm no George Bush so take the title as you like, but today's donation from one of my aunts officially put me at the $1,000 mark for donations to Environmental Defense. A few more dollars, in theory, will be donated from some matching funds from various companies; however, I have no easy way to track these, only the money sent to me to forward on or donated on-line. A huge thanks to everyone who has donated, I appreciate all of your support.

The last mountain bike race of the year is quickly upon me, the Tipperary Creek race in Winter Park. The course is about 25 miles with a good amount of climbing. This is one of the best courses around so should make a fitting end to the season. Wish I could fit in one or two more, but with other commitments that just isn't going to happen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Pink Dude Denver

So everyone who reads SLY's blog you’ll have heard of (or seen) the pink dude. If you’re in SLC maybe you’ve even seen him in person. On all my visits I’ve yet to actually see the Pink Dude, but today in Denver I caught a glimpse of the Pink Dude’s dad (and yes this is a guy). The picture is a little blurry, but a camera phone from 25 feet only does so much.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Today

Well this month has been light for postings, but some times other things take over. Just a quick update though, as of right now I've raised (really you have donated) $850 for the Environmental Defense Fund. Not to bad at all. Also I'm just starting to work on how and what to do with Racing Green moving forward. Nothing is firm yet, but I am going to keep this going forward in some way, most likely by starting a team of like minded individuals to race, promote bicycling as an way to lessen human impact on the earth and to introduce people (especially kids) to riding.

I'll have more details on the program later, but I plan to have some good sponsorship based on a few talks.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

MIA

Well, I've been MIA since the FireCracker 50, partially because of how the day went and partially just damn busy. Raced twice since then, once a couple of days later just to mentally get the stress of a DNF off my mind. Today I raced to race. Didn't do great, as it seems the field at the Winter Park races is deep and fast, my neighbor/friend/Seamus's girlfriend's dad/carpool partner won the race (he actually won the one right after the 50 too). Even if I have a bad day racing, or just race as well as I can (like today) it is always cool when someone you hang out with has a great day (or in Kelly's case season) and wins. Makes all the racing seem more successful.

So on the global warming front the little fund raising scoreboard at the top is a little off. A good number of people have sent me money directly or donated because of me just through the mail. Tax reasons I guess, but it is all good. At this point I'm above $600, and people keep telling me more is coming. In my mind it is all good.

A question I've asked a couple times in posts is how to measure success? Well I didn't finish the race, at this point I haven't raised $1000.00 but even with those two factors I think I've had some level of success in this effort. Why? People I know have made choices to change their lifestyles and actions because of what I've done (Patti and Rob), I've talked to school groups, I've written to elected officials, and I've talked to congressional representatives. None of these in and of themselves, or maybe even collectively will end global warming; however, they provide a starting point. They let people know this is a real issue. Talking to Rob today (plus some email), a guy I've raced against for a few years (but don't know well) provided me a feeling that the effort has been worth while. It made me feel I am in some ways accomplishing the goals I set early this year.

The only bad thing about Rob, he beat me by 1 second in the race today (for 24th spot). We fought each other for 3-4 miles at the end. In the end he was faster, maybe his commute is longer, but like I said, success of a friend always feels good. Rob I hope you're reading this post. Great job out there today.

Monday, July 09, 2007

So now is time for the full story on the FireCracker 50. The race started good, I was feeling strong and trying to ride within myself to start the race, knowing it would be a long day. I was making sure I was drinking at least every 15 minutes to stay hydrated. However, as is a usual happening for me in races I was starting to get an upset stomach after about an hour in the race. I was trying to eat some, but only a minimal amount as I was trying not to cause too much of a problem with my stomach.

By the top of the first climb on the second lap (about 31-32 miles into the race) my energy was fading fast and I was barely able to ride. I kept at it, trying to drink as much Gatorade as possible for energy, but after another 6 miles I couldn’t keep the energy needs up and had to call it a day, taking a short cut road back the finish. It definitely wasn’t what I had planned or expected out of the race, but it has made me look at how I prepare for food intake before races. With a normal 2 hour race I can fake nutrition and not (apparently) suffer too much. For a five hour race, nutrition has to be a critical component of racing.

So what does all this mean for my goal of raising awareness of global warming and challenging people to donate money to the Environmental Defense Fund? Well I honestly don’t know. In some ways the goal is still alive, finishing a bike race doesn’t cause success or failure. As my friend Bob said “the cause and your effort are alive and well, thanks in no small part to your efforts. Could be race day is often not so much a point of arrival as it is a point of departure”. I certainly hope he is right. I know people who had pledged to donate prior to the ride still have. I know I’ve talked with a lot of people over the course of six months about global warming. I know some of my habits have changed.

Now really the choice is each of ours. Have I succeeded or failed? I think in small ways I’ve succeeded. I’m going to keep plugging away on the keyboard, and in actions, and in talking with people; make environmental concerns an issue we all address. Keep checking in, as I’ll keep providing some information and stories.

Thanks for the support thus far.

Friday, July 06, 2007

FireCracker 50

I'll post more later, just have to say I'm decompressing and digesting a bad day on the bike.

Thanks to everyone who's supported me in this effort. I'll give more details later.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Resting Up

It’s just four days till the FireCracker 50, so I’m trying to sit around and rest. It is tough before a race because you tend to want to do little things at the end to make you faster, but really at this point recovery is the key thing for going faster. I did ride for about 2 hours this morning and felt pretty good. Now I just need to get the mountain bike all adjusted and ready to race.

Two other pieces of news on the FireCracker 50, word from Sly Fox is he is coming over from Utah from the race. Grandma L will have some Utah racers to cheer for too I guess. Second is be ready for flats. The downhill from Lincoln Park is rocky and causing flats. This is the one section of the course I didn't ride the other day because I kept getting lost and ran low on time, but I've heard it is causing havoc with people pre-riding.

And I have a new kit to race in, all I can say is GREEN.

An anonymous donor of mine sent an email to me on calculating your carbon footprint (how much greenhouse gas you emit). There are a lot of carbon calculators out there but one of the best I’ve found is the EPAs. It has more detail then a lot of others, though it neglects flying which is a big hit for emitting greenhouse gases. The sad truth is I’m probably over the “national average” because of flying for work. It’s interesting but I recently read that if everyone on a plane drove individually to/from their destinations the carbon emissions would still be less than flying.

Anyway, take a few minutes to check out the calculator and get some ideas on ways to reduce your emissions. All the sites I’ve checked out have good ideas for reducing the amount of greenhouse gases you emit.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Six Days

and counting to the FireCracker 50. I cruised up to Breckenridge today to ride the course, aside from getting lost a bunch on the backside (Little French Gulch) of the course and riding up a stream of snow melt for about 2 miles it was a good ride. The opening climb seems to go on forever, part of it on pavement part on dirt. At least when you're done with the climb most of the climbing is done.

While getting lost multiple times I met a few locals out riding the course, all were super cool and helpful in getting me un-lost. It's nice to just run in to people out riding and have them help you out.

Yesterday was bike to work day. I think my office had 22 people sign up and all but one rode in. They give out free breakfast at places in Denver on bike to work day, but I was running late so didn't get to stop. Oh well, maybe next year.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

One Week, Two Weeks

Tomorrow marks one week until Bike to Work Day here in Denver and two weeks until the FireCracker 50. I'd like to see a large showing of people participating in BTWD. I'm coordinating the effort for my company and about 20 people have signed up, which is about 10% of the staff.



The FireCracker 50 is a different story, as I know not every can participate by riding, but I hope many of you will consider participating in-kind by donating to Environmental Defense Fund. Some of you may have gotten the newsletter I put out, others may just have happened onto the blog. In either case I'll be posting some of my articles from my most recent newsletter over the next two weeks, along with other information leading up to the FireCracker 50. If anyone would like my newsletter, just send me an email.

Article on EDF


Of all the environmental groups and organizations out there, why did I decide to raise fund for the Environmental Defense Fund (www.environmentaldefense.org)?
Unfortunately, at this point in time global warming and environmental issues have become overly politicized. People wonder: does it exist? should we legislate to help protect the earth? do humans cause it? if so, should corporations self-regulate or be restricted by the government?
I wanted to find a group that was objective and apolitical in its assessment of our environmental state. The Environmental Defense Fund fits the bill. This is a group of scientist and economists who are working to show that environmental sustainability and economic well being can co-exist.
A great example of this is the work Environmental Defense is doing with FedEx, designing new vehicles and looking for ways to lessen the impact of FedEx’s fleet on the environment.

Environmental Defense has also been at the lead of a business coalition (U.S. Climate Action Partnership) that is trying to force governmental action on the climate issue. This coalition includes companies such as GM, Shell, General Electric as well as environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation. Environmental Defense Fund staff have proven that they are able to work across politics and industries to further improvement to the environment.
I’d ask each of you to make a small donation to them, through my blog or on your own, to allow them to continue their work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Utah Racing

Well the weekend of racing went well in Utah. Big thanks go out to mom-in-law Lynda for driving, letting me stay at the house, and feeding me in the race. It sure makes the racing easier when you have someone there to take care of you. Back to the racing in a minute though.

I was reading an article Saturday in the Salt Lake Tribune that discussed how the western US Governors are pushing for environmental legislation on both the stat and federal level. Even governors from some of the more “conservative” western states, like Utah are supporting this work. This is a huge change over the course of just a few years in perception about the need to move environmental concerns to the forefront. However support from the governors is only a small step, as:

“The opposition in Utah, moreover, doesn't just come from the GOP. "Huntsman, before he gets too far into it, should look at the economics," said Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price. Dmitrich, who represents Utah's coal country, was the author of a 1998 resolution - passed overwhelmingly in the Legislature - calling on the governor to prohibit state agencies from taking any action to reduce greenhouse gases.”

Take some time to contact your local legislator about global warming and the environment. Let them know that the issues are real and that you support the stance of the western governors. Here are links for the local officials in Utah or Colorado.
Now onto racing. While the field at the race was small I’m still pleased with how the weekend went. I first upgraded to Expert last year at Deer Valley, finished last and knew I had a long way to go. This year I knocked 7+ minutes off my time from last year and finished in 4th spot. Given the small size of the field the placing is good, not great, but the time improvement is pretty sweet. It’s about a 5% improvement over last year and given that it was very windy this year maybe even slightly better. I’ve still got work to do to be at the top of the Expert group (like the 30-40 people in Colorado races) but I’m moving the right direction. With just 17 days before the FireCracker 50 I have some time for a little more improvement before starting to taper/rest for the race. I’ll be working on long intervals again this week and hopefully sneak in one more long ride this weekend to get ready. Then I’ll recover for a few days early next week before reducing my training volume but keeping some intensity for the week before the race. Since it takes 7-10 days for training to really improve performance after this week of training my efforts will be focused on keeping fitness, not improving it any more.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Utah

I'm heading to Utah for the National Mountain Bike Series Race at Deer Valley. Staying with Lyn (my mother in law) for the weekend of racing. We're heading up to watch the semi-pro race when I get in. Hopefully Sly (http://bikehusla.blogspot.com/) will put on a show for the home town crowd.

This will be my last race before the FireCracker 50. It should be good training, about 25 miles, 2.25 hours and a lot of climbing. I'm going in a little tired from training, but the goal is the FireCracker 50 not this race. It should be interesting to see the results and time of the race though, as this race last year was my first as an Expert. Finished DFL (Dead F****** Last) so shouldn't be hard to improve. This is the biggest and toughest series in the country which is why I'm going, race against the best to get better. Hopefully this race will help my abilities for the FireCracker 50.

The only bad news, I'll be gone for Father's Day, but Seamus made me a sweet card so I'm set.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday

Damn I feel like I should post something, but don't really have much to say. I did some editing on the site tonight, added a few links. There is now a link with information about the FireCracker 50, though all that really needs to be said is 50 miles, 10,000+ vertical feet, marathon national championship and 6 hours.

I also moved the link for donating to the Environmental Defense Fund to the top of the page (thanks for the idea Kip). As some (hopefully many) of you remember one of my primary goals is to raise $1,000 for the Environmental Defense Fund. The EDF is a group of scientist created to raise awareness and provide facts about global warming, trying to limit the political rhetoric and provide sound information/facts. I'm hoping that people will consider donating $0.50 - $1.00 per mile of the FireCracker 50 to the Environmental Defense Fund ($25-$50 total). With the race just a few weeks away it seems like a good time to start reminding people of this portion of the goal.

Of course this is only one facet of my goal with the others being:
Begin to provide people information and resources on the effects of global
Educate people on the ease and benefits of using the bike as a means of transportation

I think I'm accomplishing these two in some ways so hopefully I can raise some funds too. One of my aunts was in town this weekend and she's been reading the blog and changed her bag habits at the grocery store as a result. If we each start with small steps like this improvement will come. Thanks for making some personal changes Patty, it's news like this that makes my efforts seem worth the time and energy.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why Should You Vote?

Because our current leadership won't admit there is a problem with global warming.

From Reuters (blatently stolen from my company)
World leaders meeting in Germany have agreed to pursue "substantial" cuts in greenhouse gases, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.

"In terms of targets, we agreed on clear language ... that recognizes that (rises in) CO2 emissions must first be stopped and then followed by substantial reductions," Merkel told reporters at the G8 summit in the Baltic coast resort of Heiligendamm.

But alas Presidnet George...Group of Eight (G8) powers failed to overcome U.S. resistance to committing to specific numerical targets to curb global warming but did refer to the goal of some countries of cutting emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

For the full article head over to: http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL0528791320070607?src=060707_1004_TOPSTORY_emissions_cuts_deal

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work Day in Denver is three weeks from today, Wednesday June 27. This is a well run, metro area event that makes commuting to work using alternative transportation fun and easy. I'm working to coordinate efforts at my company and thus far we have 15 people signed up to commute, a few for the first time ever.

It is the small steps and efforts, like commuting to work on the bike (or walking) once in a while that can provide a starting point for bigger changes. The more people who are involved/participate in events like Bike to Work Day and let officials know they are becoming involved because of global warming, the more officials will take notice. Get out there on the 27th and give a bike commute a try. Let your friends know, and more importantly let elected officials know the reason behind your participation.

I'll be riding, and in fact have volunteered to ride in with a few novice co-workers, if you need any help preparing let me know. I commuted through our snow-packed streets all winter so riding in the Denver summer should be easy.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Smaller Footprints

Each week we are making small steps at my house to reduce our Carbon Footprint (how much greenhouse gas we put in the air) with last week being a big one we bought Ade a bike. She hasn’t ridden one in about 20 years (I know hard to believe being married to me and not riding a bike) but the Schwinn cruiser is perfect. We all rode to the swimming pool on Saturday afternoon. Not a big ride but in the past we would have driven a wasteful 2-3 miles to go to the pool. Instead now we all have bikes to ride and an easy fun free (don’t forget gas prices) way to the pool.

The whole cruiser bike is pretty cool for getting around the neighborhood, so much so I might have to buy one soon. The racing bikes are nice but to be casual and look good a cruiser might be a better fit. I also found a grocery store, Albertsons on 2nd and Quebec that has plastic bag recycling. This is huge as Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year with a minimal number being recycled. The Albertsons will let you recycle newspaper bags, grocery bags, and even the plastic used to cover dry cleaning. As much as I’ve never been a fan of shopping at Albertsons this may be enough to get me to switch, at least some of what I buy, to support their efforts.

Another beauty of the summer is farmers markets which are great for food. Inexpensive, local, organic fruits and vegetables. The food tastes better and there is less environmental impact. It is still early in the veggie season here in Colorado but some things were great. As the summer goes on more fresh foods will appear and many places have recipes that let you try out the fresh crops.

Sunday was a big riding day, another 6 hours on the bike. I rode to Golden up Chimney Gulch (the dirt trail up Lookout Mountain) down Apex (the backside of Lookout) and home. I got in about 2 hours of mountain biking and 6 hours total. A 2 hour mountain bike ride is pretty damn good and usually involves at least a ½ hour of drive time each way, but the commute by bike makes the dirt even more fun and doesn’t waste gas. I tell you I’m trying to reduce my waste, maybe not great yet but all the little efforts help. What have you done recently?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rest Week

A couple of random thoughts:


It was a rest week, didn't ride much about 5 hours but actually rode the mountain bike in the dirt.


Camping must suck, I've been "camping" in the living room with Seamus for two nights with Ade out of town and the floor is hard, imagine no carpet to help soften where you sleep.


Nothing beats a bike ride with your kid. We cruised to the pool yesterday on our bikes. Every time I ride with Seamus I'm reminded why riding is so much fun. (Plus check out his new helmet with flames, I wish they painted adult helmets cool like that)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A little while...

I've been in hiding, actually just way too much going on. June is Bike Month in Colorado and June 27th is Bike to Work Day (check out www.drcog.org for more info) so I've been working on a few things related to BTWD instead of blogging. Time is limited so I have to make choices on if blogging is more important; or are actions related to making people aware of human impact on the environment more important. I've decided the latter and as a result have been working to coordinate my company's BTWD participation, trying to get an article written and published for a community newspaper (doesn't look like they are going to use it) and a few other things that are still in the beginning stages.

Bottom line though, if you live in the Denver area try to participate in BTWD. It has a ton of cool stuff associated (free breakfast stations on bike routes, chances to win prizes, guaranteed rides home if needed) and is great for the environment and your health. With gas prices at $3.30ish a gallon riding a bike doesn't seem all bad.

I've also raced again since my last post, busted out a 7th place at Battle of the Bear, a race held just east of Morrison (Red Rocks). The course is brutal as it is fairly flat with a few short steep hills. Basically you are on the gas the entire time and there is no shade to reduce the heat. Last Sunday when racing it was in the mid 80's making the race significantly harder. Add to that a few beers and not eating well the night before because we were at a party and the racing was tough. I almost didn't race but knew the effort would be good for training and getting me going fast. With the FireCracker 50 just 5 1/2 weeks away (and a lot of shorter races before and after) I need to start working on my speed and not just my endurance. The race at Bear Creek certainly got me some speed work and let me know I have a lot of room to progress. After this week, which has been a recovery week, I will start to focus more on hard efforts (intervals) to get my speed up for racing. Hopefully with this concentrated work on speed the results will improve as well (though my first top 10 as an expert felt good it was a small weakish field).

Since the FireCracker 50 is so long I'm going to try longer intervals than I have done in the past. In past seasons I would go for 9-12 minutes at about 90% of my max heart rate (171-175 bpms). This year I am going to try for 15-20 and maybe longer at the same effort. This may seem extreme, but to give a baseline for my heart rate my averages from Chalk Creek and Battle at the Bear were 174 bpm at Chalk Creek (1:48) and 178 bpm at Battle at the Bear (1:45). There is no way in training to keep the heart rate that high for nearly two hours, so short efforts that are repeated are the best tool to get ready for racing. Hopefully I can take the longer efforts, we'll see starting Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another Long Day



I went for another long ride yesterday, right around the 6:30 range. It was a little rough after racing a couple of days before, but the work should pay big later. The first part of the ride, about 15 minutes, was far and away the best part of the ride. Seamus and I rode to school together, his first bike commute. There is nothing like hanging out with a five year old to get you to appreciate the routine tasks in life. He was completly excited about riding, checking out birds, riding through some puddles where people had watered, cruising down the little hill by our house.


He was very pleased and happy with himself when the ride was over and we were walking into school. To me it was cool because we could have just as easily driven in, but instead rode and reduced two miles of useless driving. On the way home, even after 6:30 on the bike, we rode home and Ade joined us by walking. All in all far more fun than driving the car.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chalk Creek Race Report

Chalk Creek Race Report, or How the Mountain States Cup went Big Time:

The first cross-country race of the year (for me) and in the Mountain States Cup was yesterday in Nathrop. The course is pretty unique for the typical MSC schedule which usually centers itself on ski resorts with big climbs. Chalk Creek is held on a cattle ranch with one short steep climb, a lot of false flats and one short downhill. There is some fun single track after the downhill, but for most of the race you are on cattle path or service roads.

I showed up to the race on Saturday with less than ideal preparation was running late and was just glad to actually make it to the start line. As SLY says to race well you need to train, eat, sleep and repeat, if you throw in a bunch of other stuff you aren’t sleeping enough and your racing won’t be great. To give you an idea of my week leading up to the race training was minimal, work was more than it should have been, my mom was in the hospital and Friday, which I had planned to take off to relax ended up with going to work at 5:30, working till 9:30, riding hard home to see field day, riding to the hospital, riding home to pick up Shay, cleaning the house, then driving with Ade to pick up car #2 after way too much in repair bills so I could race. By the time Saturday came around I wasn’t racing for fun, I was racing because I had invested so much time already this year in training and I wanted to get out and finally race.

When I got to the start area, which was about a 10 minute ride from parking, I was shocked. The little old MSC had been replaced by a full pit area, lots of team rigs, pro level signage, close to a NORBA National. It’s fun to see what a little cash infusion can do for a series, many improvements but the good from last year (and the years before) was still around. The small local club teams still had tents up, most of the people working the races were the same and many of the racers were the same. Having moved up to Expert midway through last season this was my first MSC race as an expert and I wasn’t sure what to expect after a winter of training in solitude. The race started fast, and with about 40 racers in the 35-39 age group it was tough to see because the road was very dusty. By the time we hit the first (and only real) climb I was towards the back half of the group. My goal for the race was to ride steady and consistent for the race and see how I did against the expert field. I’ve been riding a lot of hours, but little intensity so I was hoping to be able to maintain or pick people off at the end. I felt good the first lap and ripped a 33:30 first lap time which is about 2.5 minutes faster than before on the course. Starting the second lap I was riding with a few people and feeling good. I did loose ground a few times on tighter sections of single-track, mostly I think because of very limited riding on the dirt this year. Including the race I’ve ridden in the dirt 3 times this year so the technical skills are off to say the least. But overall the second lap kept me near the same people and I put in another 33:30. To start to third lap I got ahead of the people I had been riding with on the short climb and kept it going on the false flat on the top. I felt pretty good to have actually put distance on a few riders and not feel like I was out of my league in the expert race. Coming through at the end of 3 laps I was at 1:40 for the race. Three laps is the sport distance so lap 4 was uncharted ground for me. I wanted to keep steady and stay in front of the people who I had gapped on the third lap. I started the lap feeling good, but on the false flat my legs started to give and I eased up the pace. By the time of the downhill (about 8 minutes to the finish) I could barely pedal or keep the bike going. I managed to get some more Gatorade down and hung on tight to the finish without getting passed.

I ended up at 2:17 for the race. Not sure of a placing as I had to leave right after, and I mean right after, I was on the road back to Denver 20 minutes after I finished. The race was good. Clearly I have a long way to go in the Expert group but compared to the second half of last year I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do need to figure out how to do intervals that will get me more competitive/increase my tempo pace. I’ll start to work on that soon and hopefully by June will be even more competitive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Almost Race Time

Finally the mountain bike season is upon us. I had been thinking about racing on Sunday for awhile, but never registered, which turned out to be a good thing since the race was cancelled because of snow and dangerous course conditions. This Saturday though is the start of the Mountain States Cup down in Nathrop. This is the start to the big races for the year and all the big guns will be out. I’m hoping to have a good race but it is hard to know how you’ll do when everyone has been training and not racing.

The more I think about my goals for this season the more difficult I am finding it to measure success. The goals I outlined in January were:

Begin to provide people information and resources on the effects of global warming
Raise $1,000 for the Environmental Defense to help research and educate on issues related to humans environmental impact
Educate people on the ease and benefits of using the bike as a means of transportation

At this point I’m not sure I’ve done a lot to reach these goals. Clearly the monetary portion has little movement thus far; however, I’m hoping to generate funds through the FireCracker 50. I’ll send/write more later on this, but I’m hoping to get people to donate between $0.50 and $1.00 per mile. I’ve been trying to provide tips on commuting and am trying to get an article in a local newsletter for June’s Bike to Work Day, we’ll see if they accept my submission.

I do think I’ve been successful in starting conversations and being a resource on issues related to global warming. After going into Shay’s class I received an email from his teacher saying four kids in the class were using one of the hand-outs I gave as an environmental chore chart at home. While it’s a small number of kids (though 20% of the class) this represents some degree of success to me. Would I like to see everyone in the class making an effort; would I like to have everyone start conversations with friends about their environmental impact? Of course, but this isn’t realistic. I know my effort is a small scale effort in a major issue, but if I can begin to make a little difference all the time and effort I’m putting in will be worthwhile to me. The old adage don’t talk politics or religion just doesn’t fit. Global warming has become, unfortunately, a political issue; however, we must be willing to bring the topic up in any company and speak with passion and intelligence on the issue and what each of us can do to protect the planet. Try to start a conversation about the environment with someone today, your efforts will help.

Friday, May 04, 2007

2 Months

Two months from today is the FireCracker 50 up in Breckenridge. In some ways it is just another race for me in a season of 15-20 races. In other ways it is going to be a special event. When I decided to dedicate my race season to raise awareness about global warming/humans environmental impact I knew I needed a keystone event, an event people could rally behind and focus on. While I spend a great deal of time racing most people don't appreciate the efforts and don't have the time to focus their attention on a season of racing.

The FireCracker 50 is a unique event, very long by mountain bike standards, an event that requires extra focus and effort to succeed in compared to a "normal" 2 hour race. If I race great the 50 will take 5 hours, and could easily take 6 hours to complete. In some ways the extra effort required to ride well on July 4th is not unlike the extra effort we all need to put in to help reduce human’s impact on the environment. We all need to focus our attention on details to win the race. For the FireCracker 50 that has involved me spending more time on building endurance this year (4-6 hour rides as opposed to 3-4 hour rides), more time focused on hydration and food on long rides, more time riding on the mountain bike to be use to the bike. Parallel to that is what we can do to reduce our environmental footprint. Spending more time sorting through our trash to make sure everything that can be recycled is, spending more time and focus on the products we use and companies we buy from to ensure we support companies that support environmental awareness. For example I have switched food products during rides from Powerbar to Clif products because of Clif's environmental stewardship.

It's the little changes, the attention to details that will help the environment and help me finish the FireCracker 50 well. I have 2 months to dig in and focus on the race; I ask each of you to spend the next 2 months focusing on the details related to your environmental impact. Take a little extra time to protect the planet.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Six hours of riding

Damn I'm tired, busted out six hours on the bike today. I haven't put in that much time in probably a year and half. To make the ride even tougher I spent the whole time on the mountain bike. I figure if the FireCracker 50 is on the mountain bike I'd better get the body use to time on that bike.

I rode most of the time on the road today, but had two major off-road sections, climbing from Morrison to the top of Mt. Falcon (and back down) then a loop of Green Mountain, maybe a total of 2:00 hours off-road. Putting in those kind of miles makes me have some solid confidence for Breckenridge and other upcoming races. While I'm tired after riding I don't feel completely wasted, overall a good sign.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Long Week

It was a long week for me with little time to ride. I went to New York on Tuesday and Wednesday then headed up to Springfield, MA on Thursday for work. Between all the travel, trying to catch up at work and spending time with the family I didn't get a lot of riding in. Oh well, I'm taking tomorrow off and going for a 6 hour ride.

I did get a change to write my April newsletter, for those not on my email list let me know if you'd like me to send one.

Better get to sleep soon if I'm really going to ride that long tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BIG TIME

I've hit the big time, made Sly Fox's blog role. As crazy as Cris is he sure gets a lot of hits. I've met Cris many times over the years, and been beaten by him at least once last year at Deer Valley. For all the new Utah readers I'm the slow brother in law of climb um as Cris calls him. Catch me at Deer Valley in June for an in person meeting, until then enjoy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Education not Legislation

I’m off to New York this morning, flying of course, global warming be damned. Sometimes you need to fly; at least I guess you do, to get from point A to point B. But the time on a plane has some great benefits, like a few hours where communication is completely cut-off and I can work on whatever I want. I’ve been mulling over this entry/writing for a few days and just not had time to write it down, so I’ll take the time on the plane to get it written.

Part of the problem with trying to write is the issue of when do I have time to write? I tend to do most of my thinking while I’m out riding which very much limits my ability to write anything down at the same time. When I’m not out riding I tend to be working, which although in front of a computer hasn’t allowed much free time for composing recently or with Shay and Ade. Time with Shay and Ade may allow a few free moments here and there to write, but not a prolonged period of time to think. Maybe I’ll have to invent some sort of computer interface that will allow me to telepathically transpose my thoughts while riding.

But onwards, as Earth Day this past weekend, teaching Shay’s class about how they can protect the environment and meeting with Diana DeGette’s office the previous week have gotten me thinking about what we need to do to really make changes to the way we live in an effort to protect the environment. When I went to DeGette’s office there was a great deal of talk about legislating and requiring people to use electric cars etc. And while legislation may (and probably will) play a role in protecting the earth it is not what is needed at this time.

Legislation without education will lead to extreme opposition to the efforts being made and will ultimately fail. However, legislation coupled with (or proceeded by) education will lead to real change. When I was in front of a group of five and six year olds talking about recycling and how to help the earth not get sick I really felt that the kids were listening and wanting to help. Since that time, Seamus has been picking up liter on the streets, trying to recycle, and drawing on both sides of paper. Admittedly all small steps, but the little things we can all do to help the environment. In fifteen or twenty years (with continued reinforcement) will Seamus buy into and agree with legislation to protect the environment? Hell yes, not only will he buy into it he will require stringent legislation. He will require companies, the products he buys, to take environmental stewardship seriously.

The only problem with this is Seamus is just one kid, or at a max his class is only 20 kids, and it will take 20 years before they are in a position to effect change and we must act now. So we must accelerate education, not just for children but for adults. When I first started this effort I undertook a huge effort to read and educate myself. In a small way I hope to be teaching people through this effort, though I know my posts are limited at best for education content, but even if I can’t educate hopefully each of you will start thinking about the environment and take the time to educate yourselves. Since I concocted this idea in November I’ve learned what greenhouse gases our, Ade has learned what fossil fuels are, Seamus has learned that he can help make the earth not die. I’ve bought into the information I’ve read, I believe that at least in part humans are causing harm to the environment and that with our own efforts we can help to make changes, educate our friends and most importantly educate our elected officials about the importance of environmental issues so that the legislation they create is supported, strong and most importantly helpful to the environment.
I wish I had more time to help educate, and I will try throughout the course of this season, but each of you must make the effort on your own. I can recommend reading, starting with Al Gore’s An Inconevient Truth (or if you are lazy watch it). Other books include A Field Guide to Catastrophe, Bush Versus the Environment. Web sites from Environmental Defense, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resource Defense Council, FightGlobalWarming.com, earthjustic.com and the Sierra Club all offer huge amounts of information. Take time to read and review, take time to learn and educate yourself and educate others. Then start making the small steps like Seamus has to protect the environment. Start to ride your bike, use canvas bags for grocery trips, next time a clerk offers you a bag turn it down, use a manual lawn mower, bring your own mug to the coffee shop, pick up the trash on the street, force your schools and offices to implement recycling programs. Finally once you feel comfortable with the changes that need to be made write your elected officials, harass presidential candidates, make environmental issues front and center in politics, but base the issues on facts and legislation on efforts that will work and help. Legislation will play a critical role in the end to protect the environment, but unfounded legislation (legislation that has no broad based support or understanding) will not work. So, what have you done to protect the environment today?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day, so what does that mean? Not really sure, seems as if the event was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as a method to shake up the political establishment and make people aware of issues surrounding our environment (http://www.earthday.net/resources/history.aspx). Earlier this week I went to Seamus' school and talked to his class about the environment and what they can do to help protect the earth. His teacher is really into environmental protection and was happy to have a parent come in to build on her lessons related to Earth Day. She even has brought her own recycling bin in to school since the school doesn't "participate" in a recycling program.

I tried to keep my talk interesting and fun. Showing the kids every day things they can do to help, such as recycling, how they can reuse items, and what reducing means. I have to admit I was surprised and happy with how much a group of five and six year olds new. It was also a lot of fun to just be in class with Seamus, maybe just a little way to show him how much we care about school and the environment.

I think my big action for the upcoming week will be harassing Shay's school to get with it and start a recycling program. I know how much paper he goes through coloring, seems a waste to not provide recycling in all the classrooms. The way I see it is start them young and taking care of the environment will be second nature by the time these kids are adults.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Soccer



Seamus finally got in a real soccer game this weekend. It was pretty funny, the kids were pretty interested at the start, but as the game progressed things kind of fell apart. Kids would walk off the field mid-shift, start playing with the net, tackle each other, basically anything but play soccer. It was fun to watch though and Seamus seemed to have some fun.


Here is Seamus and his buddy Ethan mid game. Seamus had to come off the field and put his sweatshirt on under his jersey cause he thought it was cold. Don't know why he thought that, I got a sunburn on my head.
Here's Seamus doing some sort of soccer thing early in the game. Sorry but no pictures of the blue shoes really turned out, I'll need to take a close-up next time.

I put in a 14 hour week of training, which for me is pretty big. I'm trying for another this week, but it may be harder given that a few people are out at work (means more hours for me) and Ade is going out on Thursday. Hopefully if the weather is good I can go big on the weekend again. I rode my favorite ride today, Lookout (twice) and felt pretty good. I decided next time I'll ride the mountain bike to Golden then ride the Chimney Gulch trail (which pretty much follows the road) up and down. It will make a 3.5 hour ride about 5 I think so it should help get me going.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taking it to the streets

So today I went to the meeting at Congresswoman DeGette’s office on behalf of the LCV. Met with my neighbor Chris and the district manager (forgot his name) on behalf of DeGette. I wouldn’t say we were overly organized or influential in our meeting, but it was great to have an opportunity to express interests and concerns as constituents. Although the LCV is a huge, politically active group that allowed us to get our feet in the door, clearly this was a meeting of concerned citizens and not big money.

There were a lot of differing views, even within a group of people who theoretically have the same interest in the environment. A few people were very (overly perhaps) passionate, single minded and from my perspective not very realistic in their views. Most others were concerned and just want to express support for legislation and efforts to improve the environment. Issues ranged from alternative fuels to solar, to education (my topic/interest), to the economics needed to really move us forward. At the end of the day it was a good meeting, though the reality is given DeGette’s very favorable environmental record, though nothing earth-breaking in terms of legislation or action will evolve from the meeting.

So if I feel this way am I glad I went? Hell yes. I made a commitment to raise awareness on global warming and if I can let my congresswoman know I’m concerned then I’m making another small effort to raise the awareness. If I’m not involved and expressing concerns then can I really bitch about how our government is dealing with environmental issues? No. Will I go again, given an opportunity? Yes. Take the time this weekend to email your congressional representative and let them know you support current legislation entitled the Safe Climate Act and you expect them to pass the legislation. If you can’t ask the question what have you done today, then give an honest answer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Riding

I’m trying to get in two big weeks on the bike this week and next, trying for about 15 hours per week. Given that the weather isn’t scheduled to be great this might be a little tough, but I really want to get in some long hour weeks prior to May when the racing season really starts. Once I start racing training a lot of hours becomes more difficult because so much time is spent recovering from the hard race efforts. Between the recovering from races and still needing to get in long rides in May and June to be ready for the FireCracker 50 this stretch is most likely my last block of consistent high mile and intensity work for awhile.

In an effort to get in the extra time I want I’m trying to etch out any riding I can. Both yesterday and today I put in 1.5 hours on the trainer before work (4:30-6:00), helped get everything/one ready for the day (making lunches for all of us, helping get Shay ready etc.) then ride into the office and ride home. This is getting me about an extra ½ hour of riding each day. If I’m lucky (and the weather holds out) I’ll do this tomorrow, and try to do a longer ride home maybe an hour or so, before a recovery day Thursday. This morning was pretty damn rough as the trainer didn’t seem like much fun when the alarm went off, but I managed to force my way downstairs and put in the miles. Then the ride in was a bit cold and wet due to rain last night. I guess this is the time to prove it if I want to race well this season.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Getting Ready

On the Global Warming front I’m getting ready to take it up a level and take on two new (short term) commitments. The first is meeting with a local politician (DeGette) with others from the LCV next Friday. This should be a good way to express concerns from real people not a PAC. Meeting will be really friendly, especially since my next door neighbor works for DeGette and will be at the meeting.

The second task I’m doing is teaching a session on environmental impact to Seamus’ class on the week of Earth Day. This should be fun as it is always cool to go into his school and see him and work with the kids. I’m going to go over ways the kids can recycle, teach them about how bike riding helps the environment and give some safety tips on riding, and an interactive session of planting organic veggies to explain how choices on food etc. impact the environment. I know it will be fun and his teacher is down with it, but who knows about other parents. You certainly put yourself out there when talking about issues that for some unknown reason (Bush) have become political. I really want to bring awareness to people on the environment, not piss them off; however, in this day and age all issues become political so I’m bound to piss a few people off. At least they get some free tomato plants out of the deal.

Today was cold and snowy at times, but I’ve hit my limit with riding the trainer so I spent 2+ hours outside on the road bike. Felt pretty good considering I’ve had a slight cold all week and was way to busy at work. I’m going to try to sneak in another ride tomorrow (Easter) to make up for the easy week, but if the weather is still shitty I may just skip the day. Although I need the training as it seems like I will be going to India again, probably in early June, which will really kill last minute training for the FireCracker 50. By that point I’d better have my endurance anyway so hopefully I’ll be able to ride an exercise bike some during the time I’m there to not lose to much fitness, then have about 2 weeks to fine tune everything. We’ll see though, I could just slack at work and not finish anything that is needed to go to India until after the 4th and then go, but that may not be the best idea to stay employed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April Fools

Sometimes the blogging gets slowed down by life, sometime it picks up when there is more free time. Right now there really isn’t a lot of free time so infrequent posts are the current state. Saturday’s soccer game for Seamus was cancelled because of the snow last Thursday. I think the game could have been played, as it was warm and dry by Saturday morning, but I’m not in charge.

Just wait till you see pictures of him though, I bought him some sweet bright blue soccer shoes. One thing is certain he’ll be easy to pick out on the field.

I did a road race on Sunday, up near Boulder. I raced with the old slow guys (Cat 4 35+) and had a good race. Not really sure if slow is a great term for the race though as we did 22 miles on a rolling course (with about ½ of it on dirt roads) in less than an hour. I don’t have a cyclo-computer any more but my calculations have us at about 23 miles an hour. There were really no breakaways in the race, just guys coming off the back because of the constant pressure. I was in the lead group until about a mile from the end when I couldn’t respond anymore. I ended up in 13th place and was the first finisher outside the lead group. The race gave me a good indication that my fitness is progressing well and that I really need to work on the anaerobic side of things (short efforts of less than 3 minutes). While I often think these efforts aren’t key in mountain biking I’ve learned that I’m probably wrong. The start of the race, hard pushes at the top of climbs, trying to catch other racers all require this effort. In the past few years I haven’t spent much time working in this area, but I’m going to start adding some of this work in over the next few weeks.

Looking at my schedule I think the first mountain bike race will be May 6 up near Buffalo Creek. This is a location fairly near Denver that hasn’t had many races held in it although there are a lot of trails. One of the main reasons is the fires and floods in the area of the past 10 years. It should be pretty cool to race and see what is happening after all the disasters.

My company of the week (not really weekly) is Fed Ex, for what they are doing to help the environment. As I was leaving work the other day I noticed a Fed Ex truck on the loading dock that mentioned it was Hybrid powered, then I saw a sticker for environmental defense. FedEx is working with the Environmental Defense organization to develop trucks that are “50 percent more fuel-efficient (yielding a 33-percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions) and produces 90 percent less air emissions of soot and smog.”

FedEx has also worked to redesign packaging materials, reduce emissions from planes and use more environmentally friendly printing methods on packages etc. All these efforts combined show a company that seems to realize that they do have an impact on the environment and can help keep it healthy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Slacker

Well I've been slacking with posts recently, mostly because of too much work and very little free time. After a hard few days training at the end of last week I took two days off the bike (Mon and Tues) and rode an hour easy today. Commuting home (which really makes for 1.5 hours of riding) my legs still felt like hell, not a quick recovery. I hate to say it but this is the first year I can feel being older. I don't seem to recover from hard work as quick and to fully recover takes work (things like stretching and sleeping). Unfortunately for me those two extra items are harder to come by than they are to think about. I did get in a good stretch tonight and have another easy day scheduled for tomorrow so hopefully the legs will come around for the weekend.

I'm planning on racing a road race on Sunday, it will be a good test to see how the last block of training went. If the legs recover I should be alright, if they feel as bad as today it will be a waste of $30 for the entry fee.

Seamus has decided to try soccer again this season. We had his first practice last night, I must say I was impressed with his effort. Last spring he hated it and never participated. Yesterday he was following the ball and laughing. He even (accidentally) kicked the ball a few times. I hope he has better luck with it this year. If nothing else it is good to get him out and doing something active. I hope he actually gets more into it as he plays a little more, maybe even try to really kick the ball. His first game is Saturday and the season goes until mid-May, which means no Saturday racing till after that, but I'd much rather watch him play soccer any day. It is fun to see, especially when he is having fun and gaining confidence. Even in an hour practice yesterday I could see him feeling better about his soccer playing skills. I'm going to try to get pictures at Saturday's game to post.

Gotta get to bed so I can get up early to ride before work.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Going Green


So one of the most common questions I've been asked recently is "how do you go green?". Clearly there is the effort to reduce product usage, recycle, reuse, alternative commuting, but what else can you do? So I'm going to start to track down companies that are "green". This week I'm starting with Clif Bar (http://www.clifbar.com/), mostly because it is a cycling/sports related product so it seems to make sense.


Gary, the guy who started and owns Clif Bars is very environmentally friendly. A huge part of the company goals/mission is to create a sustainable environment. This goes from using organic produce, to sponsoring teams that are green focused, to buying wind energy credits. The best sample of Clif's dedication I've seen in practice was their cyclo-cross team at race last fall. These guys are elite (pro) racers, who spent time at races digging through trash cans to pull out recyclable materials that had been thrown away. Clearly the Clif sponsorship helped to dictate that and I'm sure increased awareness at races. Because of Clif's environmental focus I've switched all my riding energy products to Clif. I had been a Powerbar user for many years, but because of Clif Bars concern for more than just profit I've switched brands.


Speaking of Clif Bars, the management book Gary Erickson wrote (Raising the Bar) is a solid business read. If you're looking for a good management style book check it out. If you want a recycled version let me know and I'll send you mine.


I got in my first actual mountain bike ride in a long time yesterday. Rode for about 2 hours at Green Mountain. For those of you in the know GM isn't the greatest spot for riding as it is fairly nontechnical, but given the weather I was just glad to be on the dirt. Hopefully I'll be racing in the dirt in a couple of weeks, we'll see how things pan out, but I felt good and the training seems to be going well.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I'm tired

Another long day on the bike today, busted out a ride to Lookout, two climbs up and on the bad side two flats. The first happened about 15 minutes into the ride, the second at about 3 hours. All I can say about that is, good thing I have some new tires on the way. I’ve had a few flats recently and that is always the sign new tires are needed.

I’ve been trying to sneak in some reading on the scientific background on global warming, which given a day spent in LA waiting for one meeting, was provided in plenty. I actually damn near finished two books that day (Monday) as there was a lot of travel time with minimal meeting time. So what did I learn? The facts seem to show that no matter how you slice it the current increase in CO2 (and other gases) can’t (at least historically) be explained as a “natural” happening. What is showing to happen is an acceleration of environmental change caused by humans adding in greenhouses gases to the atmosphere by the ton. Back to a topic from a few weeks ago, recycling seems to be a simple way to help reduce our waste. But the question is what can be recycled? I don’t have the definitive answers here as many locations vary what is acceptable but here is a list of “standards”: newspaper, office paper, aluminum cans, plastics (1 or 2 on the bottom), canned food cans, junk mail, cardboard, cereal box (and the like) containers including toilet paper/paper towel rolls. What isn’t recyclable in most places includes plastic other than 1 or 2 (such as cottage cheese/cream cheese containers), cardboard milk/juice containers. Some times it may take a little extra effort to recycle items but in the long run it is worth the time/effort. One area I’ve been concentrating on is pop cans at work (far less convenient than the trash can at my desk) and paper napkins (only taking one). Hopefully these help, especially since I’ve been flying a lot recently which isn’t good for anything.

We’ve also tried to take care of a few things at home with waste/recycling, such as using clothe napkins every night, using reusable water bottles instead of “bottled” water and changing some cleaning supplies. I’m still waiting for a “big” change, but beginning to think that a lot of small changes may be better. So what have you done today?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Racing in March?

Since this blog is suppose to be about bike racing and global warming I'm going to highlight the bike racing thing today. Why? Well, mostly cause the season has kicked-off here in Colorado and I actually raced. Today was the first race of the year, part of an early season series of road races (crits, which are multi lap races on a short course) up in Boulder.

I decided to race yesterday after putting in some hard efforts and feeling not terrible. I figured since the week would be light in terms of riding hours anyway I might as well get in hard work. Now one thing to keep in mind with this racing in March thing is, I'm a mountain biker not a road racer and today's kind of race is fast, not particularly suited for an endurance guy like me. I knew the hard work would be/will be good later in the year though. The strange thing with the first race of the year is not having any idea what you'll do. I came in to today with low expectations since I haven't done any intervals until this week, I had just come off 6 days off, and while in Mexico I gained a lot of weight (10 lbs). All these things had me expecting to get beat good, no chance of staying with the leaders, which on a course like this (in the past) has been a miracle. Somehow today though I rode good. Stayed with the lead group the entire time, attacked once just to test the field and was in the sprint for the win at the end. Now road racers and mountain bikers have different strengths and one area mountain bikers are weak is the sprint, so needless to say I didn't do good in the sprint, but man was it fun. Far more important than the results was the information I gained today: yes the work this winter is paying off, yes there is room to go (no intervals yet) and finally that racing is still fun ( I knew this though).

The first race is also good on a social level, a few of my mountain biking brethren were at the race, Steve and Rob racing and Och hanging out cheering. It was good to catch up for a few minutes after the race, knowing I'll be seeing these guys all summer.

Next stop, LA tomorrow for the day then back to Denver late tomorrow night. I'll try to write some on Global Warming as I've been reading a lot about issues recently, but until then, what have you done today?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mexico





I was a slacker in Mexico, didn't post because I didn't feel like hanging out in the hotel lobby to get wireless. We spent most of our time on the beach, but did go to Tulum for a day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulum) to check out the ruins. Over the past 1.5 years I've been to Germany, India and now Mexico and have taken time to see some historical sites in all places. It is pretty cool to see the unique designs in each area and to see the skills of the craftsmen thousands of years ago.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lent

So most of you know I'm not an overly religious guy, but don't forget four years of catholic high school taught me a thing or two that I still remember. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, which if I remember correctly (and according to the Internet) is a time to reflect, do good work, abstain from unnecessary pleasures etc. So, I'm challenging everyone to a global warming lent. I can't tell you what to give up but for my Catholic family the whole meat thing is a starting place. Many people contend eating organic, vegetarian diets helps reduce global warming. Other "easy sacrifices" to try over the next 40 days include recycling grocery bags, try to use the same bags each time you go shopping between now and Easter. Give up one car trip a week and walk to the corner store (do we really have corner stores anymore? Mine is 2 miles away, but I'll ride my bike).

I'm not really sure where I'm trying to take this, just asking each of you to make a minimal sacrifice now to better the environment, just until Easter and if it isn't too painful keep it up after. If any of you take me up on this challenge let me know, the most unique idea will win a prize (not sure what but in line with the uniqueness of the sacrifice).

Cheers, I'm starting to think of Mexico. Maybe I'll give up snow?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hopefully a few of you are catching up on my blog since I sent out my last mass email. For those of you not on my email list, as part of my effort to raise awareness on global warming I've created a newsletter to keep folks updated. Since my technical skills are bad at best I haven't figured out how to post a link to a pdf online, so if you are interested in a copy send me an email (dmccune7@hotmail.com) and I'll send it out to you. This blog is intended to be a mixture of random rants on cycling, global warming and keeping family current on life. Over the past month or so it has been mostly global warming and riding if there are topics you'd like to see more about let me know and I'll try. Later this week the site shifts over to family focus as we are headed to Mexico for a week on the beach. For those of you in Colorado or Utah I'll post pictures from my beach chair, most pictures will have Seamus playing in the sand as I'm not planning on moving. The weather is expected to be in the 80's and after the winter we've had in Denver it is just what I need. I did a long road ride again on Sunday, 4 hours including a climb up Lookout. I rode Lookout 11 days ago after about a month + with no climbing and felt pretty stale. This time, even though I haven't done any additional climbing I felt a lot better, probably because I've done a few hard efforts in the mean time, trying to get my body in shape. I knocked a minute off my time on the climb from a week ago and posted my best time up Lookout ever (by 4 seconds). Hopefully this is a good sign that as I work towards race fitness for the summer I won't get worked over as hard in the Expert field. When I upgraded to Expert middle of last season it was a tough transition with a lot of back of the field finishes. I've been working hard to improve my conditioning so I can finish middle of the pack. Only time will tell, but I think improvements are at hand.

Just read an interesting article on US policy related to global warming (article), it is nice to see that the issue is finally becoming apolitical which seems to rarely happen. While policy change is important, personal habits can cause change/improvement at a quicker rate than waiting for legislation to be written, passed and implemented. So, what have you done today?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Morning Ride

Most of my riding comes pretty early in the day, either a 4:30 am trainer session during the week or long rides on the weekend where I hit the door about 7:00. Today I was a little later than that as a short ride was on tap, 2.5 hours. I set off to Cherry Creek resovior which is one of my usual haunts for rides, nice rolling terrain, limited cars and multiple loop options.

Besides being cold the ride was good, hardly any traffic, roads clear of ice and snow and a special treat at the rez, a pack of deer. Given that the resovior is really in the middle of the city I'm always a little surprised by the number of deer out there at times. This morning coming around a cornor there were 10 deer crossing the road. Pretty cool way to start the day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Recycling

I’ve been thinking about recycling a lot recently as to me it seems counter-productive to helping the environment. I mean think about it, I throw a bunch of random stuff in my recycling bin (cans, bottles, paper etc.) with no concern. Someone comes, takes it away and has to sort through it, break the materials down to a raw state and reengineer into a new product. All of these steps along the way take energy which in most cases causes carbon or methane to be released into the atmosphere, which helps promote global warming. Damn, maybe we’ve been duped on this whole recycling thing. So I had to look into the benefits of recycling, and the good news is there are many benefits.

First recycling reduces the amount of garbage in landfills producing two benefits, less land used for industrial purposes and less methane being released into the atmosphere. The land is good as it allows (potential) for more plants, trees, farming etc. which all help offset greenhouse gases. However more important is that landfills create a huge amount of methane gas as the trash decomposes and breaks down. Therefore the less we put in landfills the less methane that is created.

Additional benefits of recycling include not having to use virgin materials to create products. Even if a new tree is planted for each tree cut down to make paper, cardboard, tissue etc. the amount of carbon removed from the environment is less than that of an older and larger plant. Using virgin materials dramatically reduces the benefits vegetation provides to the environment (learn some more about plants). The manufacturing of materials, either raw or recycled is fairly similar so the energy utilized is equal, therefore a net zero result from how much gas is emitted from using recycled materials.

So what does this mean? It means that recycling really does help the environment, by reusing materials and reducing landfill space and gas emissions. So, what have you done today?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Five hour rides and what is global warming

Well it’s been a hell of a week, thus the lack of updates. Two birthdays, lots of work, and finally a solid week of riding on the bike. I took a ½ day on Wednesday to celebrate (my birthday) and proceeded to bust out a 5 hour ride. The roads are still wet in a lot of places from all of our snow, but Lookout Mountain has been plowed and was mostly dry. I rode the climb three times and was definitely feeling it the last climb. It’s been about 2 months since I hit Lookout so it was nice to get in the ride, as Lookout is my favorite place to ride the road bike. I’ll need to get in a lot more rides like that to be ready for the FireCracker 50. I guess taking time off work makes for a busier week, but when there is already too much to do a long ride is worth it. Saturday was another busy day with my mom’s b-day, shopping for glasses for Ade and a 3 hour ride, but I must say those two long rides in one week felt good.

Now, on to Global Warming and what exactly is global warming? This question has been brought up a lot recently, I think due to the IPCC report released last week. To put it simply global warming is caused by greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and others) being emitted. Greenhouse gases let light/heat from the sun in, which is nice, but then trap the heat in the atmosphere, not allowing it to escape back to space. Some heat trapping is good as it keeps the temperature livable on Earth, but too much is bad causing temperatures to rise and effecting Earth’s ecosystems (how we live with each other and other animals etc on Earth).

The problem with global warming is that we are helping to accelerate the emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases for numerous reasons. Some reasons are somewhat beyond our control, for example a larger human population on Earth now than at any other time. However, and most importantly, some are very controllable for example emissions of CO2 because of fossil fuel usage (think gas, oil, natural gas etc.). Now I’m not sitting here saying I don’t like having a nice warm house or a car to get to bike races in, but what I am saying is that we can each individually and collectively do a lot to reduce our CO2 emissions and reduce the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming. Now it is important to keep in mind that all these gases/causes of the greenhouse effect occur naturally, always have, always will. What is just as important, if not more so, is to know that the emissions of these gases have been accelerated by our actions.

So in layman’s terms greenhouse gases have always existed and no matter what we do will exist. This truth helps naysayer's with their argument that global warming is a myth. But the facts point to a very accelerated level of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases since the Industrial Revolution (I know thinking back to high school history is painful so here is a link). Gas emissions have accelerated even more dramatically since the popularization of the car. But the good news is there is a significant amount that can be done to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, such as driving less, recycling, planting trees/flowers, using less energy (turn off lights, keep temperature lower in the winter, higher in the summer). So, what have you done today?