Sunday, February 24, 2013

where the week went

It all started with fresh snow in the Park. Five weeks have come and gone faster than I would've liked. With it's passing so wraps up the Winter Ecology/tele-ski class we were teaching. The Park left us with some crazy wheel art on our short bus.
This bus would do well in Mad Max 
All week was waiting for more to come though. Many boxes were to arrive with my name on them filled with bits and pieces for True Grit also coming quick in March. FM coordinator-extraordinaire Christopher back in ATL was super quick with placing my tire order and Maxxis was super quick shipping 'em out. I'm not sure what SW Utah is like in mid-march (hopefully 70 and sunny) so I'll be repping more of the southeast with pro-white Swiftwick arm warmers.
Swiftwick may have over compensated with the box and huge-ass sticker
 It was like Christmas here this week. On Friday the latest in skull security arrived, complete with checker pattern and nifty magnet closure that I can't for the life of me figure out.
TSE battle axe and the perfect combination of form and function in headwear
But before I could test it out I had the luxury of filling said skull with a new list of wants at this years incarnation of NAHBS. It was a brief browse, as it should've been before I got any silly ideas, but well worth the drive. Before I strolled into the convention center, an old AT friend met me for lunch, with a side order of catch-up and a healthy sprinkling of future hang-out potential. The seed for an '04 thru-hiker 10yr reunion was also planted. Can't believe it's almost been ten years...

Back to bikes. Here are some highlights. Fellow FMer Jonathan has plenty more here.
don't know who made this, just know it will be now be a regular fixture in my dreams 
Ellis Cycles nailing the go-wherever-the-hell-you-want category
totally forget who made this too, I love the custom frame bags and integrated rack
crazy seat tube cluster with Maverick fork, dropper post and hard plastic saddle?
Alchemy was local when I went to NAHBS in Austin two years ago too. Who's following who?
Mud is the new black. Oskar's Blue's REEB selection lookin' fun
Moot's with their bomber IMBA trail clearing tank
English Cycles were nothing but sleek. this one also looks uncomfotable
another local with amazing lines
and classy details. this beut won Best Ti Construction 
Gangl, straight out of Golden, was geting plenty of gaukers
old school framebuilder in history but never in design 
um, yes please
IF goin' all pastel for Easter
Tonight I unloaded the new stickers I collected in Denver and added them to the collection. Not too extensive, but they sure do tell a story. This is two years worth of moving around the country, going to conferences, shows, bike shops, races, and barbecue joints. Nothin' like a little nostalgia to finish out a week.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I flew down to Boulder today like Icarus on a pilgrimage. The other night I read a romantic account of somewhere holding onto yester-year and all that is right and good in the world of bicicletta's. As many might have felt after taking those prose in, I desired to make my way there. Then I thought I should ride there.
what to wear, what to wear: cold in Estes, 50's in Boulder

Come Saturday and Vecchio's became the zenith of my flight path.
gorgeous Waterford track bike sharing a stand with an equally attractive Richey  Swiss Cross
Campy and high prices
old Colnago. Pretty was in good company
Barely satiated, with countless inquiries, like rocks, unturned, and a myriad of lustful gazes still to be had, I tore myself from the soft focus and sharp sense of what a shop should be and back onto a brightly lit Pearl St. I needed to eat, but the sidewalks were crawling with hipsters and hippies waiting to get into all the good eateries. I kept heading West and remembered an asian street food place. Still had a line, but it was quick, cheap and easy.
"ok. you ate. now saddle up!" 
Rolling out of town it further sunk in how much of cycling Mecca Boulder is. Katie "I was America's best hope to win cx worlds on home turf" Compton rolled down past me, flanked by other Trek riders and I leaped frogged with a Clif Bar rider. I'm sure there were others.
climbing up Old Stage Rd
As I climbed closer to the sun, the wax melted and the wings began to fall off. I pushed up out of Blue country and deeper into Red, as Jeep tours rumbled past me and all sorts of firearms shot off in the woods around me. Strangely enough, it was a comforting realm to return to. So much so that it was at the loudest bend in the road, with high powered semi-automatics discharging on one side and smaller caliber pistols on the other, that I pulled off to stretch my nagging hip flexor and enjoy some tasty balls.
big guns were shot on this side of the road
SUV drivers were shooting handguns 
Through the tiny hamlet of Jamestown, rife with WAMP's (weird-ass-mountain-people), past pavement and over mud and snow, and into a dark place I rode. Literally and figuratively. The sun was setting and my body was fading. As I fought to keep my eyes open the last few miles, I knew that my wings most definitely fell off.
wasn't expecting the road to turn to dirt
just had to grab this when I saw it at Vecchio's. Thanks Peter! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gettin' outta Mordor

Fridays and Saturdays are my days off and this past week I was determined to get out on the cross bike and find some gravel roads to ride. I busted out my Front Range trail map Thursday night and tried to find a loop. There's plenty of little side roads around here to do out-and-backs, but there aren't many options for creating a route without overlap.

Just out of town, down Rt 7 and into Boulder County, there's a handful of roads on the map and a thin red line called 119 that seemed to connect all the way back to town, weaving itself through the mountains behind the Twin Sisters Peaks. 

That became my weekend's aim. 

It took some getting to though. 

Before I get ahead of myself, this was also my first time out using products from Backcountry Research. With a TSE picture as a backdrop to the site and plenty of Dicky references, I knew there was a relationship there, I just didn't realize how much of one until I got my "Whammer Deal Grandiose" and saw Mr. Dillen on all the tags. That's quite some celebrity. 
Awesome Strap with an Awesome view
I fooled around with the Race Strap for a bit, but ended up only using the tube tourniquet and tulbag. It eliminated the old Thompson stem bag I was using to carry tube and tools. It was nice to make some room in my jersey pockets, but I don't see myself really appreciating these well-made products until race day when I'll carry multiple tubes and supplies. I think they'll work a little better holding 29er tubes and on a thicker top tube or under a wider saddle.

Back to the riding.

Have I mentioned how unrelenting the wind is here? I feel like I must've. It's particularly forceful the closer you get to the 14, 259' Long's Peak. Whether coming up on Rt 7 from Lyons or heading out of town like I did these rides, the winds blow like the mountain doesn't want you getting any closer.

It's like Mt Doom. And the winds have powers I didn't think were possible.
Tour of Mordor
Fish Creek Rd turns to gravel just above Mary's Lake and is a nice off-pavement shortcut up to Lily Lake. One switchback was all ice requiring a dismount, but most of the climb was fast packed snow. Almost to the top, those winds hit me so hard I almost couldn't pedal. Friday it was overcast, cold, and I wasn't feeling all that well, so I listened to my body and the wind and turned around at that point. Saturday the only clouds in the sky were made up of the snow peeling off the high mountains. The sun was bright and warm so I kept pushing on.
ice bend

Once I got to Lily Lake I stopped to check my map and see what turns I had to make next. Hand to back jersey pocket. It wasn't there! Damnit, the wind blew it out. Then I tried for my iphone. That got pulled out too!

Now I have the perfect story to express how bad the wind is here.

The wind was so strong that it got ahold of my map, not super surprising, but also pulled it out with such force that it took my phone with it. Luckily I found both when I went looking down the hill; the phone, un-cracked on the side of the road and the map hung up in a bush.

not posed; this is how I stopped. stem to tree more efficient than brake to rim
tube tourniquet after first ride. not the sexiest piece of gear,  I know
Finding 82, then 119 wasn't too hard, but I definitely kept checking the map to make sure I was on track. 82 is a beautiful stretch of crushed gravel in the shadow of Mt. Doom. 119 was gated off and was obviously mostly used by backcountry enthusiasts of the gas guzzling variety. Deep sand, rocky, with long stretches of melting snow. Steep too.
Mt Doom, aka Longs Peak
It ended up being mostly a hike-a-bike.
warm enough to shed gloves and turn snow rotten
I didn't mind though. The views were spectacular, the sun was warm, and I was glad to be out exploring a new route.
glad to know i'm going the right way
I couldn't tell how far I was getting by looking at the map, so when I got to the dark side of a mountain at 3:40, with several hundred feet of mountain side ahead of me, and only the shortest of rideable stretches, I aired on the side of caution and turned around. It was a good choice too. Not only did the sun go down just as I was riding up the driveway, but when I looked at my route on strava it showed how much of 119 remained. If I attempt this route again I'm going to opt to take the Mariachi, in the Summer, starting much earlier in the day

Saturday, February 2, 2013

schwag n'at

Finally sold the redline frameset I've been toting around for the past couple years on ebay. Shipped it through Bikeflights of course. Billy built this little business up in State College then took it out to Portland. It was great to catch up with him on the phone for a bit after I placed my order via his site. 

A week or two passed and I found this package waiting for me in the mail room. 

Lo and behold, Billy hooked it up with some schwag. 

I can never have too many black bike themed tshirts, but the second piece really took it to a whole new level. Stainless steel growler with neoprene koozie that has a shoulder strap. I am set. 

One of  the best pieces of branded schwag in my collection, that's for sure. It's right up there with my Timbuk2 TSE bag that I got for helping out with the race two years ago. 

It's sitting in my room begging me to take a ride down to Lyons and fill it up at Oskar Blues. In time, in time. 

I also came across this sweet 3D map of the park in the basement. I haven't a clue how they make these, but I'm stoked to have one in my room. I think cartography is all the art you need on a wall. My good friend/old roommate and I used to have a giant 6'x3' mounted 3D map of Pennsylvania in our living room. These maps beg for rides to be taken as well. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

input = output

Winter is time to put in those "base miles" for us lowly endurance athletes, and though anthropologically speaking we've grown accustomed (as humans) to putting on the pounds, it's the time to drop weight as well. A guy I used to travel and race with back at Penn State wisely said "it's cheaper to lose weight than have a lighter bike". So come race day you could be pedaling a clunker, but you don't have to be dragging along extra insulation.

Along with the physiological equivalent of putting carbon fiber components on your bike, the miles you put in are only as good as what you're putting in your body. Living in a super tight-knit community, where a cough or a high five has the potential to put you down for a couple days, recovering after riding is key. If I want to ride tomorrow, I better take care of myself today.

And so I've been fairly selective this Winter when it comes to diet. I've been trying new things and have been enjoying the results.

As I've mentioned before I've been enjoying some recipes from a company down the hill from me called Skratch Labs. Their drink mix sure the hell beats the crusty gatorade I found in the basement and the flavors are light enough to not leave a sticky residue on my bikes when it drips out of the bottles.
Hydration is key.
single speeders prepare for final TSE stage
Breakfast is important too. And when I don't have time to make eggs and rice, I go with Clay's sweet gruel. It's a breakfast porridge of sorts combining oat bran and chia seeds from the clever sponsors of cyclo-cross racers, Bob's Red Mill. To that base either honey or maple syrup is added with a rotating cast of dried fruit, nuts, and fancy pants nut butters. Salt too. 
seems simple enough...
admittedly, not terribly appetizing. tastes great though. 
Finally there's those post roller workout meals when you're in the kitchen in a sopping wet kit trying to prepare and eat something before you shower. Can't go wrong with eggs and rice again. Brocoli and pesto sauce round it out. I forget the company, but the rice blend has lentils and other exotic grains in it as well, making it a tad more interesting than regular old arroyo.