Friday, November 30, 2012

Full Moon EP exploration

Thursday nights are the beginning to my weekend, having Friday and Saturday off. The school I live/work at is built on a contour in our own slice of heaven up in the hills outside of town. An incredible place, but it is a fish bowl life at times. Sometimes you just need to get out and stretch your fins, if you will. 

So as the full moon rose over our ever-present monoliths, I began the always stellar voyage into town. Coming down our long driveway that opens up into the greater Estes Valley never disappoints. Rocky Mtn National Park fills the western horizon with snow covered ranges, sometimes so clear they seem closer than they are, sometimes hidden in their own weather systems, sometimes glowing in the moonlight like this night, and sometimes so bright from the snow's reflection that capturing them with a lens is nearly impossible. 

And there's the wind. My oh my, this damn wind. It's maybe a 2-3 mile descent into town and it's rare that I'm don't have to pedal forcefully to keep moving. The gusts are heavy and often unending, making for difficult downhills. Luckily, the other common obstacle has only been dealt with while driving. Elk. I'm not looking forward to the night I come across a gang of elk, a big bull and his heirem, aimlessly crossing the road. It's been a humbling experience to drive through them in a car. 

I was intending to grab a bite and a beer at one of Estes Park's several mediocre mexican joints, but alas, like most of businesses in town, the one I had in mind closed their doors recently for the slow winter. So I kept riding up the short, heavily lit main street, to see what else town had to offer. I cringed as I passed several businesses closed for the season, but blaring some of the worst christmas music onto the street for all to hear. It wasn't getting me into "the spirit" as it might have been intended to. Downtown is chock full of tacky tourist traps; a mountain beach town, complete with tie-dyed t-shirts and salt water taffy shops. Yes, salt water taffy. In Colorado. Not two minutes and I was at the other end of town, coming up short for appetizing dinner options and needing a drink more than when I left. 

Ah, but what if I rolled up the hill a little, just outside of downtown? There lies the Stanley Hotel and Colorado's largest selection of whiskey (I later learned). The very same hotel of The Shining, and perhaps more importantly, Dumb and Dumber fame. It's a bit on the classier side of things, but I could roll down my pants and take off my wind jacket. This is Colorado after all. They expect beards and burliness. At least the tourists that flow through this place do. It was my best option. 

No bike racks at a place like this, so I locked up to a No Parking sign, rolled down my pants to best conceal my mtb shoes, shed my wind jacket, neoprene gloves (which are amazing!) and cycling cap. Once at the marble and wood bar, I knew instantly that I made the right choice. It was a most enjoyable   culinary and lone-wolf at a bar experience. 

On my return ride it dawned on me that I was out of any sort of libation back home, so a stop at Rambo's, possibly the best named liquor store I've come across, was in order. But I was travelling light and did not have a bag. What to do, what to do...Round bottles and double bags but of course. Luckily there was an affordable bourbon packaged in such a bottle. One must celebrate these little moments of ingenuity. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 race schedule on the mind

Living back in Colorado, this time for a full year (maybe longer) rather than the quick summer in 2011, has got me doing some serious shopping for 2013 races. Diving into endurance racing with the Wilderness 101 back in PA, then attempting an NUE 4pack to qualify in the series back in 2010, makes it hard to let go of that series. It's just a ton of traveling to pull together 4 races living out west. There are plenty of ridiculously hard, fun, and in some cases free races right here in CO. Hm, but I'd sure love to see what a year living and riding above 7,000' would do to a finishing time back east...

With the aforementioned tubeless wheels built up for my cross bike and a renewed excitement for riding it,  the gravel grinder format also has quite a bit of pull. Reading about the Dirty Kanza and Crusher in the Tushar in XXC Mag certainly piqued my interest.

Sadly, the work schedule doesn't allow for any stage races. I'd love to return to the 2013 edition of TSE  or take on the Breck Epic, but don't have the time. 

I'm also searching out teams as well. Care to add an endurance single-speeder to your roster anyone? I certainly enjoyed wearing the cog skull and cross bacon jersey of Faster Mustache this year, but considering the fact that I'm no longer living in the GA, it seems time to move on.

A mostly unrealistic, yet desirable list of potential 2013 races:

March True Grit Epic, UT (

April 6th or 7th(?) AntiEpic Gravel Grinder 150, CO (

April 18hr of Fruita, CO (

April 28th(?) Cohutta 100 Ducktown, TN (

April Whiskey 50 Prescott, AZ (

May Desert RATS 100k Fruita, CO (

June 1st Dirty Kanza, KS (

July Breckenridge 100, CO (

July 13th Crusher in the Tushar, UT (

July Wilderness 101, PA (

July Kennebec Pass Enduro, CO (

August Pierre’s Hole 100, WY (

September Park City P2P, UT (

September 8th(?) Vapor Trail 125 Salida, CO (

Stock Photos

A well brined* turkey can be so much more than two bags of tasty meat. 
 Take bones, add celery, carrots, garlic, onions, a leek, parsley, salt & pepper, water and heat. 
Then wait and enjoy the smell while it simmers. 

*The brine was apple cider, kosher salt, and homemade trinidad scorpion chili & peach hot sauce (compliments of my brother). 

Monday, November 19, 2012

"What I stand for is what I stand on"

Compliments of a High Country News issue in our library. Great reading. 

New Wheels. New Adventures.

New wheels on the Nature Boy. NoTubes Alpha 340 rims (prize for taking 3rd @ TSE) on White Industry hubs built up at Brave New Wheel
They've stirred my desire to explore my new backyard here in Estes Park. Below is the "Bone Pipe" trail heading back into campus. Longs Peak just to the left. Our very own Shaman Peak on the right.
The weekend I picked up the wheels, I dove into the deep end and raced at the USGP Ft. Collin's cyclocross race. 40 some single speeders and more carbon fiber than I'm used to seeing in the ss field. It was the biggest, most pro race I've done in a long time; maybe ever. Fun, but cx is certainly not my discipline. Way too fast, with no room for error. Not to mention I haven't been really riding for months now. Below's a picture of the fly over. Run stairs, ride ramp.
Two weeks later I got the stupid idea to subject myself to another battery-acid-flavored race down in Boulder. This time I thought I'd make it even harder on myself by riding down to it. 40 some miles of mostly downward slanted pavement. Beautiful ride, but I wasn't exactly feeling fresh at the start line. A bus of students and a colleague of mine drove down to cheer me on, and thank the internal combustion god, drive me home. The night before I experimented with some rice cakes (a la Skratch Labs recipes). Super simple combination of rice, crushed pineapple, and salt. Sure beats paying an arm and leg for energy bars.
I showed up to the Boulder race early and got to take in the views. Did I mention that the race was at Valmont Park? A city maintained bicycle specific park. Yea, it's pretty sweet. 

And new warranty replacement mountain bike came in. Out with the Salsa Selma, in with the El Mariachi. A huge thanks to Ray (of TSE fame) for pulling the warranty together back in PA! I gotta say, it's nice having a steel steed finally. Plus, I can fit fatter tires in the rear. 2.4 Ardents front AND rear? Sounds plush to me. 

A day or two after I built it up my friend Rick and I rolled out to nearby Crosier Mtn. He was lending me his size small 26" full suspension bike to show me around the first two months here. It was probably the longest I've ever ridden either a 26" bike, one with gears, or a bike with suspension. It took some getting used to, but it was time to explore my new local trail options and so I bobbed around and crunched through gears with a smile on my face. There were moments when I thought that some of these trails would be unrideable when I got a ss full rigid under me again. Silly me. That moment came and I've been crushing it. 

And I leave you with a view of a distant Longs Peak from Hall Ranch in Lyons (home of Oskar Blues Brewery). A grainy bedrock and boulder strewn climb, technical to the point of walking, but definitely rideable, led to a sandy well-designed lollipop loop on a plateau. There were signs warning you about mountain lions, but all I saw were mule deer. Ok, and incredible views. Again.