Tuesday, March 31, 2009


March ended with a whimper, two days off the bike. The days weren’t really planned off, just kind of happened because of other things. The weather and travel over the next two weeks isn’t really going to help my cycling fitness out much either, so these days off probably don’t come at the best time. I’m already planning on going to bed early tonight so I can ride an hour on the rollers in the morning. I may even try a mini stage race type training, Wednesday through Sunday with good intensity but low time/miles. Next week starts off with a trip to the East coast, home for the end of the week and weekend, then another East coast trip the middle of the week of April 13.
Two trips in 10 days to with full days of travel due to connections is always rough, but I’ll manage and with some forethought should be able to ride enough not to lose fitness, the problem is I need to be gaining fitness now, getting in a few 6 hour rides.
March was another solid month of training though, 630 miles (bring the total for the year to 1876) and a few big rides including a 4 hour mountain bike ride. My first race is going to be the Front Range 50, so the long rides and time in the dirt are going to be key to doing well in that race. I also started the first intervals of the year, and while painful, they do seem to be paying off some. Now if the weather in Colorado would stop trying to trick us into thinking it is the heart of winter I’d be happy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Riding Alone

Most of my riding is done alone, frequently at what many perceive to be strange hours. This riding alone and at strange times allows me to fit in my riding and still be involved in a normal life: wife, son, job etc. For the past few years, until very recently, that riding time has been accompanied by music, the IPod, a cyclist’s best friend. Somehow though, I’ve managed to lose my IPod.
For those who know me this isn’t a huge surprise. There is rarely a day that passes where I haven’t lost something. Whether it be a leg warmer, glove, lunch bag or shirt I want to wear I am always frantically searching for a lost item. My desk at work has such a reputation that recently there was a bet related to how long I could keep it organized. I must add I won the bet (four or five weeks), but mostly because the money on the line was going to LAF. Usually things turn up at some point in the future, though not when I am looking for a specific item. Take today for example, an undershirt (for cycling) I hadn’t found in 2-3 months appeared again, how I’m not sure but I do have it. The good news for me is that as much as I ride it is easy to justify multiple articles of clothing. Of course to justify this I use the cover of not wanting to wear smelly clothes, though most of the time I wear arm warmers, tights, leg warmers multiple times before putting in the wash. Why? Well it is simply because I can’t find any other sets to wear.
But an IPod is different. It is relatively expensive, doesn’t get dirty and isn’t easy to justify having multiples on hand “just in case”. Plus the music being replicated wouldn’t make sense. And now the real horror, much of the music I’ve lost is not easily duplicated. I copy music from others at any chance. I hear a song and download from somebody else. To replace all my lost music would take months and thousands of miles of travel.
I’ve literally been a cyclist for decades. I started riding at 8, racing at 12. That’s 30 years of riding, three years, the most recent three, with an IPod accompanying me on most rides. Now I somehow feel lost without music to join me on my rides. Music makes the long rides a little less lonely. But I’ve also noticed something else, music also takes away some of the connection one gets with riding. Earbuds act as a windshield to the cyclist. Blocking out the noise and direct connection to the environment we pedal through.
In college, the only period I didn’t race, riding was still central to my life. I’d go out for rides and draft papers, write poems and disengage from the pressure of classes, roommates and whatever else stresses a 20 year old.
To ride alone, while many of us do it, to really enjoy it and prefer to ride alone takes a special person. I’ve always enjoyed riding alone more than with others. Sure there is the practical, no delayed start times, waiting for others mechanical issues, no issues of pace, and no debate over routes. The practical side of riding alone lets you leave the house at dawn do the exact ride you wanted or need to do and be home exactly when planned (less the odd flat tire that occurs). This is highly important when other commitments of life call. The practical side of riding alone lets the cyclist live the other parts of their life.
However, the philosophical beauty of riding alone, without music, is the opportunity to think. Riding without music these past few weeks has brought me back to a lot of the reasons I’ve loved cycling so long. The freedom of riding, hearing cars, birds, other cyclists, gears shifting, and heavy breathing of the efforts I put forth clears my senses.
Cycling has always allowed me, and many others, the chance to enjoy solitary life, ask questions, discuss answers and come up with creative solutions to life.
When I was young, before IPods, hell before walkmen, if you wanted music while riding you had to memorize songs and sing them to yourself. I can still tell you all the lyrics to “Born to Run”, “Allentown”’ and “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday”. The way a mind can and will jump during a 6 hour ride is amazing. Riding without music encourages one to use their mind more. To think about life, politics, religion with no interruption is the joy of riding. Music, while fun and enjoyable, on a ride is truly an interruption. The interruption is not why I love cycling. Alone, the freedom, the polar opposite of what an IPod brings to a ride is why I love cycling. The reason I have ridden for 30 years 90% of that time without music is because it has allowed me to use my mind in new ways. It has made me think and debate for hours on end. No easy way out of a debate, no simple solution. While I’ll lament the loss of my IPod, more importantly I’ve been reminded of my cycling roots and plan to continue to engage in cycling not just for my body but for my mind.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Ride

Nearly four hours of playing in the dirt today, a great way to get ready for the planned endurance races this summer. We started out in Morrison, hit up Mt Falcon, Lair of the Bear, rode the road across Grapevine to Lookout, down Enchanted Forest, up Sluice box and home via Red Rocks. All told we think it was a little less than 40 miles of riding, but who knows because nobody riding had a computer. Today was all about putting in the big time and miles, but not worrying about how much. No need to brag about the distance and vertical, the true proof of the ride is the fact I’ve been dragging ass since.
We contemplated adding in part of Green Mountain, but with the near 80 degree weather the trails kept getting more and more packed. Coming out of Apex it was stop and go traffic, a normal 3-5 minute ride down to the parking area took nearly 10 minutes because of all the other riders and hikers. Green Mountain would have been far too painful at Noon with literally 100’s of people to fight through.
No pictures, nothing fun like that, just hard miles and a tired body. In a couple weeks we’ll be doing another long course Front Range ride, adding in at least one more area of trails and pushing the mileage above 50. If anybody has the perfect Front Range loop (no duplicate trails, no back tracking which essentially leaves White Ranch out) let me know. I’m trying to figure out how to add in three sisters to make the day really hard, I just don’t know how it would work. Lair of the Bear up to Three Sisters would be a lot of road miles and getting down is the real creative part. There has got to be a trail, I just don’t know where or what it is.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I’ve now raised over 10% of my goal for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the LiveStrong ride I’ll be doing in Austin later this year. It’s a little early to get overly excited about the ride, and I honestly haven’t started a big fund raising push (which I’ll need to if I’m going to raise another $2,200) but hitting the 10% mark is cool.

The LAF goal is to help fight cancer globally through three main 1. Together we will end the stigma of cancer and turn cancer victims into cancer survivors. 2. Together we will build an international grassroots movement that will take cancer from isolation to collaboration 3. Together with world leaders, we will transform cancer from obscurity to priority.

Since his comeback to racing Lance Armstrong and his foundation have utilize his fame and presence at races to raise awareness of cancer and secure government funding for cancer research worldwide. Huge announcements in Australia, Mexico and California were made this year in part because of the efforts of LAF, please consider a DONATION.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nothing Fancy

Just the facts: it was 12 degrees when I left the house this morning. it was dark when I left the house this morning. it was snowing when I left the house this morning. there was ice on the road when I left the house this morning. my wife offered to drive me in to work.

I had on the thermal tights, rain pants, thermal jacket and rain jacket.

It was the perfect day for a commute by bike.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Week 16

Early Sunday Morning, Dakota Ridge looking out towards Red Rocks, you can almost hear the music.

Sunday morning after the time change is a great day for heading out early and hitting the trails. Given the minimal precipitation in Colorado this winter all the foothill trails are fine for riding so another day on the mountain bike was in order. I left the house by 7:30, which considering the time change felt more like 6:30 to get out in the dirt. Clearly the animals that live at Mathews Winters Park had not been made aware of the time change as I saw deer and rabbits by the dozens. Each taking care of their morning breakfast routines with me only slightly altering their courses.
I decided to string together a new route today, Mathews, part of Dakota, Green Mountain (for the climbing), Zorro, and more of Dakota. While the ride was good and the trails fun my route wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped. I wanted the perfect two hour ride, not trails being repeated, minimal roads etc. Instead, today, I got a few too many miles on the road, a route that was short and caused two sections towards the end to be repeated to hit my time and a feeling that better mountain bike surely was at hand. Part of the problem may have been my route, starting on Mathews and climbing Zorro/Dakota at the end. The trail I went up is far better the other direction; my concern was the steep climb to start, so I took the less fun overall route. I did manage to get in a good ride, felt really strong on the climbs and felt as if I was riding well on the technical sections. I think there may be a better (and longer) route that can be created by including Bear Creek, but that will have to wait for another week.

Dakota Ridge looking west to Mathews

Dakota Ridge looking east to Green Mountain
On a side note, I’m feeling I took the weekend too easy. By Friday I already had 100+ miles and with a 35 mile ride Saturday a 200 mile week was easily within grasp; however, as a mountain biker I went for the mountain bike ride Sunday and even at that a short one. A total of 155 for the week, 9:50 of riding, with another 2:00 of riding it would have been a big week of training, as it stands a solid week but nothing special.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Museum of Contemporary Art - Denver

On weekends I always make sure Seamus and I have time alone together, just the boys hanging out. Strangely we don’t do normal boy stuff like watch sports or play sports, we tend to spend our time enjoying Denver’s cultural attractions. Fortunately for us we are members of the Zoo and Museum of Nature and Science, this makes regular visits to both places easy and now with Ade not working free. Today we ventured to a new (for us) place, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. The first Saturday of every month you can get in for one penny.
We cruised around for a while there. The exhibits and overall museum was small, but very well put together. Seamus really enjoyed it; I think the “contemporary art” is really intriguing for kids, because in a lot of ways it is similar to what kids make when doing art. There was one exhibit that was very colorful and cartoonish that we both really enjoyed.

Seamus checking out the art.

Perhaps even better then the art itself was the building. The location is a new building and (I believe) was designed for the museum. Lots of wide open spaces, cool lines between the galleries, an outdoor deck/patio on the roof all made the building very interactive and artistic as well.

Me and Seamus on the roof.

I sure hope this museum can stay around and really make a place for itself in Denver. It recently merged with another local arts organization and hired a new executive director. Small(ish) non profits have a tough go of it any time, but especially in an economic environment like this. Not sure our two cents today will help them survive but it was money well spent.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Eat Green

So here is an article I just found after yesterday's post, eating green is good for you and the environment. Time magizine has an article on eating less red meat, a product that is very high i methane, one of the three major sources of greenhouse gases.

I'm the first to admit that red meat is tasty, and could never become a person who never partakes in red meat, but reducing the intake has benefits for the environment and more importantly health. Racing Green was originally created to show how the bicycle can/could benefit the environment and personal health. That is still my primary interest day to day (hence the reason for participating in the Lance Armstrong Foundation event this year, see the link to the left). Do yourself and the environment a favor and try to change a dinner menu from meat to chicken.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Environment

Well, I’m willing to accept the challenge of my friendly “anonymous” poster and revive (at least on some levels) the social and environmental focus of the blog. In some ways I don’t know that I’ve ever really gotten away from it, just shifted focus as I see fit. Clearly in the lead up to the Presidential election in November I voiced my opinion on the candidates (and issues) in a public manner. In my mind, Fu&& the theory that you don’t discuss politics or religion in public. If you can’t voice your thoughts then why bother. I supported (now President) Obama in large part because of his environmental policies. Prior to Obama I supported a guy now known as Vice-President Biden. I liked his cap and trade ideas on carbon output; I liked his thinking in general. Truth be told, I may have been the only person in America actually happy and excited by the original announcement of Biden as the VP choice.
Do I always agree with these guys? No way. I think the recent economic stimulus package should have mandated that all vehicles that are purchased through the program be hybrid (or natural gas at a minimum). I think less focus should have been on roads and infrastructure and more focus on renewable energy, but I’ll take what I can get. The legislation has key components to help the US focus on renewable and sustainable energy use. You can see more at http://environment.about.com/od/environmentallawpolicy/a/econ_stimulus.htm.
But is governmental legislation enough to reduce our (collective) dependence on non-renewable energy? Hell no. Each of us must take time to lessen our impact. Each of us must make focused choices to change our lifestyles to reduce our carbon footprint. Each of us has to determine where we can start, make a change, have the change become second nature and then make another change. You can’t change a habit overnight. It takes weeks, even months to change habits so collectively as a country it will take years to change our driving habits, our heating habits, our habits with how we carry groceries, how we pack our lunch, but change those habits we must.
I listed a few minor and easy changes I’ve made recently in a post last week. I challenge each of you to find a change you can make that minimally impacts your life, but has significant environmental impact. A few ideas: adjust the temperature in your house, 2 degrees cooler in the winter/warmer in the summer; use renewable cloth bags for grocery shopping, ride your bike or take public transportation to work, buy organic, eat less red meat (the veggie lifestyle is far more sustainable due to the methane from cow waste), change light bulbs to energy efficient. Take a few moments to consider some choices and commit to one change for a month. Make that change become second nature. Make that change benefit the environment, then make another change and repeat the steps.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

White Ranch early on Sunday morning. It was still pretty cold out when I was riding and nobody else was out on the trails.

So, should I do a wrap up of the week or the month for this update? I hate when the month and the week end on the same day, it takes away a post idea. Given how challenged I can be with posting any changes can confuse me.

For February I had another pretty solid month of riding. Starting off with a long 95 mile ride the first week to really work to challenge myself. The highlight in some ways of the month was the ride last Sunday with Kelly where I was finally able to hang. February ended with a total of 576 miles. Given the 95 I put in on one ride alone it seems a little light for a total but I did fit in a week with essentially no training during the week for some much needed rest. Total for the year is 1,246 (though this is kind of a false number since for me “the year” of training started in November, the problem being I wasn’t paying attention to my miles then) is a solid start for the year. I’m still on pace for a big mile year with 7,400+ looking pretty realistic. If I ever put in a big ride or two during the week an 8,000 mile year may happen.

The views from White Ranch are pretty sweet of the city, this is actually a herd of deer. There were a ton of deer out today and just me on the trails.

For the week I put in a few good efforts, though nothing crazy. I spent a lot of time working on tempo rides (just below threshold, a level that can be ridden at for extended periods of time). Two of my weekday rides were tempo focused and my ride yesterday was tempo plus a super hard effort on Lookout Mountain. I rode Lookout in 24 minutes flat. This is the fastest time of the year, but still not great from a perspective of what is fast on Lookout. I think the time will drop pretty quickly over the next few weeks as I start to add some intensity to the riding. I spent this morning on a quick mountain bike ride at White Ranch. It is crazy how nice the trails are now. Prime riding except for a couple of patches of ice. I was riding without an Ipod today (very unusual for me) and had Danny’s Song by Kenny Loggins stuck in my head…”…Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign…”. Certainly not my normal riding music, but fit the ride pretty good today and made the climbs less painful. I really never got into a grove on the climbs, mostly I think I was fried from yesterday, up early riding and cold makes it tough to feel great.

White Ranch looking east toward Denver.

Overall though I'm feeling like the training is moving in the right direction. There are still a lot of weeks to go before the first race so the speed and intensity can be brought along at a slower pace.