Monday, July 23, 2007

Lessons Learned

I didn't get to go for a bike ride last week Tuesday (the day after my last post). I was too sore. But it probably wasn't what you think.

You probably think that I was sore from my bike ride on Saturday . But that wasn't the real trouble. The real trouble started on Monday, when I decided NOT to ride. Instead, I thought it would be a better idea to relax in the hammock chair. Maybe read a book. Perhaps take a little nap.

The only catch was that my hammock chair was sitting in the basement. I had not quite gotten around to hanging it in that perfect spot above the back patio.

"Well," I thought to myself, "I'm no mechanical genius, but I think I can hang up a hammock chair ."

I clearly overestimated myself. Because that's where my trouble began. Big, big trouble. The kind of trouble that starts with T , which rhymes with P, and that stands for pool....but I digress.

With great gusto I marched to the garage, and with childlike glee I grabbed my drill (a rare occurence), gave it a few revs and checked the battery, and then located what I was sure was the perfect hook for hanging a hammock chair. I figured I'd be relaxing in minutes.

And much to my delight, I was.

It was pure bliss.

For about two and a half seconds.

But then, my world (or maybe just my self) came crashing down. Before I knew it, my chair was no longer suspended the three and a half feet above the cement patio. It was on the cement patio. And so was I. I had landed quite squarely on my tailbone. And that hurt. A lot.

That's why I didn't go on a bike ride on Tuesday.

But on the bright side, all was not lost. I did learn some valuable lessons through this (painful) experience.

Perhaps the most important lesson was "Listen to your wife." You see, Jill had been watching with mild interest (amusement?) as I attempted to hang the chair. And at one point, she gave the hook and had taken from the garage a wary look and said, "Are you sure that thing will hold you? Because I sure don't think it will..." I don't remember my exact reply. I either said, "What, is that some sort of fat joke?" or just shrugged my shoulders and gave a little "meh." But either way, the end result was the same. I continued what I was doing, ignored her advice. And ended up in a world of hurt.

Next time, I'll listen.


Lesson number two was a reminder that I'm married to a very gracious woman. When I came crashing to the ground , Jill didn't say, "I told you so. " She didn't make disparaging (but accurate?) comments about my intelligence or mechanical ability. Nor did she fall to the ground in a shoulder-shaking, breath-taking boute of laughter. In fact, she didn't laugh at all. Instead, the first thing she blurted out was what we might consider the third lesson learned from this experience:

"Wow, gravity sure is strong!"

And there you have it. A sore butt and bruised ego. But I'd say, some very important lessons learned!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Piece of Cake

Well, Saturday was the big "Triple Bypass" . Some of you may recall from an earlier post that I was somewhat apprehensive about the ride. But it turns out, things went better than I dared hope.

I came. I rode. I rode some more. I conquered.

But I think I got off easy.

For one thing, there was the weather. It was perfect. "The best ever", is what I'm told. Partly cloudy. 70s. No raging headwinds (only mild ones). Only a few minutes of rain (and that during the last 30 minutes of the ride. This is unusual---people usually expect a good thunderstorm at some point during the day.) Compare that to last year, when there was so much rain, snow, cold, and carnage that at least half of the riders quit. I can just imagine what those who actually finished will say when I tell them I rode this year. "Yeah...well, back in MY day, in ought 6, it was so cold we got hypothermia coming down Squaw pass. And that was just the beginning.."
But the weather wasn't the only unfair advantage I had. You might also consider the distinct advantage my body type has for around half of the miles of the TBP. Weighing in at around 220, I am able to descend much more quickly than your typical 140-150 pound cyclist. I easily cruised down Loveland pass, for example, at speeds of 45mph before tapping the breaks (my riding partners who weigh about the same cracked 50.) Clearly, with nearly half of the ride being down hill, I had it easy here too. I can just hear the skinny guys say: "Yeah, you Clydestales may have to carry an extra hundred pounds on the way up. But it sure pays off on the way down!"

And then there was my gear. Compared to most people on this type of ride, I have nice, but not outrageously nice, cycling gear. But compared to the guy I passed going up Loveland pass, mine was completly over the top (no pun intended). If you look closely at the pictures to the right, you'll notice that he's riding up Loveland Pass on an old Schwinn Stingray.* It has a bannana seat. Chopper bars. According to the old Schwinn catalogues, it was around 39 pounds.** And you'll also notice that this fine gentleman is riding without padded shorts etc. Instead, he's dressed for comfort in cut-off jean shorts, a Rolling Stones t-shirt (taking with him at the top he was quite proud of that shirt!), and boots. Ouch.

Like I said, with the exception of the 120 miles, 10,000+ feet of climbing that the ride involved, I had it easy.

Now about that.

For those of you interested in the details, we left Evergreen around 6:20 and immediately started climbing the 18 miles up Squaw/Juniper Pass. That took a little under 2 hours. Coming up was great, but to tell the truth, going down was a little cold (the west side of the mountain doesn't get much sun at 8 am!). Once we got to the bottom of that (Idaho Springs), we started the loooong, slow climb up to the top of Loveland Pass. This seemed to be typical for the last two passes. A fair amount of elevation gain spread out over a lot of miles. This could make for a long, slow grind, but I rode conservatively and I felt fine for most of it. It was only toward the end of Vail Pass (Pass number 3) that I wondered what on earth I was trying to prove. However, at the top I had some oreos and watermelon and felt revived for the 25 mile descent to the finish. That was a good way to end.

Here are the stats, which I'll be determined to beat next year:

  • Start time: 6:20 ish.

  • Finish Time: 4:20 ish.

  • Average Moving Speed: 14:3 ish.

  • Time on Bike: 8 hours and 25 minutes ish.

  • Max Speed: 45 mph ish.

  • Total Mileage: 121 miles (ish)

And here are some random pics from the day, including the actual piece of cake referred to in the title of this post (the ride really was not that). It was my birthday cake, two weeks late, because I was trying to hold off on the ice cream in order to keep in nice, svelte climbing shape.

One of the five (?) reststops on the route. Somehow, me and the guys I was riding with managed to find each other at these.

Going up Loveland Pass.

"Silent Bob", chatting it up Loveland Pass.

Me: at the Top of Loveland Pass. Only a little lightheaded.
Crazy Guy: at the top of Loveland Pass. No more lightheaded than usual.

MMMM. Cake. What Jill did while she pined away for me...

*I don't know if he rode from the beginning. But I am quite certain we saw him roll into Avon some 60 miles later a few hours after we got in).

*My bike probably weighs about 23 with all my stuff. The real "Weight Weenies" (read: "rich guys") get their bikes down around 15lbs

Monday, July 9, 2007

Things I like about CO: Part III

Now that I'm an old codger of 27, I'm not sure what the kids these days would use to describe my last post. "Lame" seems apt. But you'd have to ask someone more "down" with the slang.

At any rate, in an effort to redeem myself (and in an even bigger effort to put off getting to work), I'm going to post the third in my compelling series: "Things I like about CO." Today's feature? "Dates with Jill." Of course, I could have dates with Jill anywhere we lived, but never mind that. As you can tell, we have some wild and crazy fun out here. I mean, a Friday night at the greenhouse? Outrageous.

The one* picture that's missing that has become a new thing for us is playing cribbage on the front porch in the cool of the evening. Has anyone noticed that the first person to deal always wins? Or is that just us?

*Oh, and our all too regular "Netflix" dates. And nights reading (Jill's plowing through the "Mitford" series now). Anyone have any good recommendations for books/movies?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Non-Bike Content

Heading out the door the other night on our way to a soccer game/fireworks, Jill told me to grab the camera. "Then you can blog about something other than bikes," she said.

So, in keeping with my constant desire to please my wife, no bike content here. So, what else to write about?


Work? Nope, that violates the strict code I've established for this blog: No work allowed.
Dog? She's awesome. But I shouldn't say more. Dog-crazy people are worse (I think?) than bike-crazy people.

Grill? Still cooking. Mmmmm. Brats. They're really tasty after a good, long bik...oops. Never mind.
Jill? Better than Daisy and brats. But I don't want to write about her and give her the satisfaction (after that comment and all).*
Well, that's pretty much my life. Not sure what else there is to tell folks about life here. I guess I'll have to settle on the weather.

We've been told more than once here: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours." That is, and is not, true.
Hey, is that a paradox?
It's not true because the weather here for the past several weeks has basically been hot, hot, and more hot (90-100). Of course, when I say "Hot", I'm talking about a different sort of heat than I'm used to in the midwest. It's "dry heat." It's a strange phenomenon--it can be 95 degrees out and you (or I) won't be visibly sweaty/sticky. Apparently, it just evaporates. Amazing.

At any rate. It's been hot. And dry too. However, you'd never be able to tell it by looking at our lawn. We have a sprinkler system and have caved in to pressure from our landlords to use it. So here we are, in the middle of the hot, dry, desert (ish), with a green lawn. Sheesh.
But back to the point. I haven't witnessed a whole lot of change in the big picture of Denver weather. Hot and dry pretty much sums it up.
But then again, it does change. Say the other night, when we went to the fireworks/soccer game for the 4th. (Oh, by the way, we went to a soccer game--Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew. A good time was had by all. We saw mascots playing each other at halftime. But I can't write any more about soccer. It only dredges up painful memories from my youth). When we left for the game around 7:15, it was 87 degrees and the sun was blazing. Two hours later, we were shivering, wishing we hadn't left our sweatshirts in the car (that just wasn't smart. The temperature regularly drops 15- 20 degrees here in the evenings). In another twenty minutes (after the game, before the fireworks) it was raining. A lot. Then, it stopped and we got to watch the fireworks in relative peace.

The fireworks, by the way, were quite good. The show was at least a half an hour (bit of a crick in the neck) and they boasted (truthfully, I assume) having the loudest fireworks in CO. Amazing.

Back to the changing weather. This afternoon is another case in point. I was at work, catching up on some things (oops, guess I broke my code), when it suddenly got very dark outside (it was sunny and, suprise, hot). Within fifteen minutes, there was lightening cracking outside my window (almost literally), the water was pouring down, the gutters overflowing. This lasted about twenty minutes, and then Jill and I went outside on the front porch to play cribage. This time, we had our sweatshirts on. But that only lasted another twenty minutes. Then the sun came out, we got too hot, and came back inside.

Again: amazing.
That's all I have to say about the weather. That was even more boring than I feared. But I never promised it would be interesting.
If you read this all, I'm not sure if I should commend you or tell you to get a new hobby. At any rate, now when I do a very long write up of the perils I encounter on the Triple Bypass next weekend, you'll all be grateful for some bike content (or may never come back here again!)

*That, and I'm planning on doing a "Jill" post after I get more pics of her at work.
**PS: If you want to know the current weather in Denver, check out the new "Weather Pixie" on the Left Panel. He/she even changes clothes to fit with current conditions (or at least conditions within the last hour or two.)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Things I like About CO, Part II

Another thing I like about living in CO is that it's usually not too much trouble convincing others to come vacation here. A couple of weeks ago Jill and I went up near Estes Park/ Rocky Mountain National Park with my parents, sister, and her family. A good time was had by all. Here are many, many, many pictures to prove it.

P.S. Consider this an open invitation to anyone who would like to come.* We have two extra bedrooms that we're happy to fill (hint hint dear brothers).

*Well, not really anyone. But if you actually take enough of an interest in our lives to read this, chances are we like you enough that this invitation applies to you.