Monday, June 30, 2008

Ring the Peak

I rode the entire ring today. I thought it was a pretty tough ride. It was pretty uneventful. It was a good ride but I didn't see much other than quite a few mule deer and some lightning for about 2 hours (lightning makes me wanna cry). There's a boat load of climbing on this ride. This was the first long ride I've done fully loaded like I will be July 28. That stuff is heavy and really makes the climbs a bear. Here's the numbers:

Just a shade over 9 hours time on the bike.
My mileage shows right at 60 miles.
My altimeter indicated 10,600' vertical gain.
Average heart rate was 141.
Calories burned was 6057.

I saw stats from somebody elses ride that put it closer to 68 miles with 12,000 vertical feet but I followed the exact same course as he did so maybe it's just a difference in computers or maybe he included mileage to and from the trail (he rode there from his house). Regardless...I can scratch it off my list and say that I probably wont do it again. I'm a bit surprised at how fresh I feel after the fact. The real question will be: Can I do this for 530 miles?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pretty well set

Well I thought I had an issue with my front Carousel Design bag but then Jeff helped me pull my head outta my rear and get it sorted. It's perfect now (the issue was operator malfunction) and it's also loaded up like it will be for the journey. This is pretty much how it's gonna roll. I will also have a backpack where I'll carry the water and some other smaller things. Bike was right at 24.5 lbs. by itself and I haven't weighed the whole shabang yet but I will today. I will say it's a tad heavier than I wanted it to be but the entire rear bag only contains 2 components of my diet that I really don't think I wanna live without. The plus side is that bag will get lighter after every 5 hours and noticably so after each 24 hour period. I've also included enough nutrition to actually last me 6 days in case there's a problem. If I'm on schedule...great...the extra days worth of nutrition will come in really handy when I'm getting through the San Jauns and there's no place to stop for food at all. Originally I planned on not relying on the food in that bag at all during the first 2 days but now I will be able to and keep rolling. I know some will ride 100 miles on gas station hot dogs and Cheetos but I'm not planning on having to stop at all. Unless I come across ice cream and then all bets are off.

This morning I received my lights. After debating back and forth between 2 different manufacturers, I opted for the Dinotte brand. I probably could have gotten lights cheaper through Ghisallo but I really like these. I had a hard time getting info. from the other company and Rob from Dinotte was super about getting back to me and answering all my questions so I shelled out full retail clams. These things are crazy small and light weight. They put out 200 lumens a piece. I will mount one on the bar and the other on the helmet.

Right now I'm running the battery pack on the side of the downtube b/c I don't like putting the wide velcro strap around the top tube for fear that it might impact shifting but I'll play with it.
I post this only because it's a tiny way for me to give Ghisallo Sports some kind of recognition for the huge part they've played in getting me ready for this. Thanks so much guys.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Better today

This morning I did the same 3 hour road ride as yesterday. I finished it in 2:45 today and felt fine. Really getting tired of riding the same roads all the time. I only had a ham samich for lunch and some fruit before I laid down for a little nap. This afternoon I road the dirt for just under 3 hours. I hit the wall on the climb up to Rampart Reservoir and had to stop and eat some Clif Block Shots (love those things), and a GU. I felt better after 5 minutes. I made it about halfway around the trail before I felt the dreaded bonk coming on again. I stopped for more GU and Clif Blocks. I was sitting there staring at the ground hoping they would quickly do their thing when I looked up to see a beautiful blond colored black bear 30 yards from me and closing in with her head down. I watched her for a second before standing up and saying, "Oh bear!!". She was off like a prom dress. Even if I would have had my camera I don't think I would have gotten a pic b/c she hit the turbos. A few minutes later I started off again. I made it to the end of the trail before hitting the wall AGAIN. I was down to 2 GU's and, luckily, they were enough to get me home. Not doing too well here the last few days but I have not been eating well on purpose and I also have not been using anything on the bike other than water (none of the nutritional things that I will use during the race that really seem to work well for me but are just too spendy to use during training).

On another note...I was checking out Independent Fabrications racing team website today and it looks like the Colorado Trail race is on their Elite Mountain Bike teams schedule. Not sure who's showing up but a very reliable source has indicated that it will be a 3 person crew and one of the riders will be Trish Stevenson. Super stoked about the possibility of some pro riders showing up for this. Should make things interesting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thought this was interesting


Today was the worst 3 hours I think I've ever spent on a bike. I felt terrible right when I left the driveway and it just continued. I really wanted to get in 4 hours on the road this morning and then follow it up with a few hours on the dirt tonight but I was lucky to get in 3 on the road before I called it quits. I took a 4 hour nap but I still feel like poop. In years past I probably would not have even tried to ride through it but I guess I'm not gonna have much of a choice on this little deal. Hopefully there won't be ANY days like this one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I just got back from doing a 4 hour ride. I'm planning on not having real good meals during the race so I skipped breakfast altogether today. I averaged 17.5 mph for 70 miles and felt pretty good until that final hour when last nights pizza wore off. I burned 3083 calories so I guess I better eat since I'll probably try and sneak in a small ride this evening unless we get to hang out by the fire in Cripple Creek with the few remaining St. Louisans that are in town until tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I've been a bit inconsistent with regard to the bike during the last 4-5 days. I did manage to get some JRA (just riding along) days in while we were in Evergreen and that was cool. The first evening we were there I rode some killer singletrack. I was blown away by how much mountain biking (and GOOD) mountain biking that area has. I did have to dodge a few elk along the way but they kept me on my toes. I also got a really nice road ride in on, what I would consider, some flatter roads. It felt so good to just spin along for 10 miles right next to a creek and look at the meadows and wildlife and really large houses. 

The days I didn't ride I fished my brains out. It was good to stand in the moving water again. I missed both the salmon/brown trout and the cutthroat spawns this year because I knew I had to be riding. I fished Bear Creek which was about 20 yards from my cabin door and landed countless browns, rainbows and even some nice cutbows. The caddis and baetis hatches were unreal every day.  

It's official

Well Heather and I are officially married. The ceremony was Saturday evening in Evergreen, Colorado. We just got back tonight so there are no pictures yet but hopefully we will have some soon. It's so good to see our close friends from back home but always unfortunate to watch them leave. Some left yesterday and others hung until today but it still sucks. To be honest it's bad enough that we always discuss moving back to St. Louis when we see them all. Thank you all for making the painful (that would be you Rob, Leo and Angela) trip out and to everyone for putting up with the expense of the trip to be a part of our celebration. 

Thanks to Cindy for taking charge and quarterbacking things at the wedding, Handsome Rob for handling the music, Crazy Carl for watching Dharma and tying the rings to her collar before letting her make the walk down the aisle. Pablo for performing a most memorable ceremony. Catina for the lovely pictures.  Rob Rob for an award winning reading about how love is like a puppy, and Scott for his reading from Norman Maclean's,  A River Run's Through It (this passage actually makes me cry every time I read it or hear it in the closing moments of the movie). Thanks to everyone that sent us cards/gifts. Thanks to the people that I forgot to thank. You're all amazing people. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Busy busy

The days leading up to the wedding are proving to be a bit stressful and time consuming. I haven't been doing much riding the last 2 days because we just seem to keep finding more small details that we overlooked for the wedding. I'm actually more tired from running around and not sleeping well than I would be if I was just riding. After the ceremony I'll have 4 weeks left before race day so I'll really cram in a bunch of miles before I start to taper my training and try and put a weeklong peak together that will, hopefully, carry me to the finish.

I really need to thank Heather for being so incredible and supportive about this little endeavor (the race not the wedding). She has taken on the majority of the respoonsibility with the wedding and making sure that all of the bases are covered. She's been unbelievably understanding when I head out for 6 hours at a time on the bike and then come home and eat and sleep or spend hours in the garage going over gear and packing details, meal plans, and studying maps, working on the bike, or just sitting in a chair and staring at the bike and thinking. This race has completely consumed my life for the last year. I can honestly say that I have focused more time and energy on this event than on any other race I've attempted.

I truly am grateful for all of the support that I've received along the way. A huge thank you to all of you who have donated your hard earned money to a cause that seems to impact us all. Thanks to my students who have kept me motivated throughout the year. I'm doing this for you all as well and I look forward to sharing the experience, stories, and photos with you this August (it will be educational will like it). Thanks to Heather...for going along with the plan to actually marry me and everything else. She seems oddly excited about the prospect of spending THE REST OF HER LIFE with a knucklehead like me. And last, but certainly not least, massive thanks to my pal Tim Kakouris and everyone involved at Ghisallo Sports for the bike, care packages, motivational speeches, coaching, and for just being there on the other end of the line or answering my rambling emails. You have no idea how thrilled I am that we have re-kindled our friendship. You are one of a few that I proudly call "friend".

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not too much to say about todays ride other than it was long. I was out for a total of 5 hours and 58 minutes and I got 96.7 road miles in. I wish I could say it was a scenic-filled ride but it was just repeats up and down Ute Pass with a headwind each time I rode down. Usually you can get some free miles in while coasting down but with the wind we've had this summer there have been very few freebies. I burned 3900 calories today so I'm going to eat dinner now and then shove how ever much ice cream my stomach can handle down my gaping throat.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

This new Apple Macbook is the cats meow. I was a little leary of making the jump from PC but, so far, it's been pretty sweet. 

After taking 2 days off to lay around the house like my dog, I decided to get out for a ride today. I took it easy and just went out for 2 hours but man was it ever nice. Finally had a warm day where the jersey had to be unzipped. Sure felt good. If the temps go up 5 more degrees though then you'll probably hear me complain about the heat. I'm a wuss when it comes to heat. Hard to believe I used to ride all the time on those muggy St. Louis summer days. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

T minus 12 hours

The inaugural Tour Divide gets under way Friday at 10:00 a.m. Racers will meet in Banff, Alberta to start this 2711 mile ride that follows the Continental Divide as it winds through Alberta, British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and finally ending in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. When it's all done, riders will have climbed right at 200,000 vertical feet (equal to climbing Mt. Everest from sea level to summit..........7 times).

Keep an eye on the savy veteran Matt Lee.

Here's some singletrack the rider's will see in Montana:

A frightened fawn in Montana.

This picture was taken from the Tour Divide site. I think it said that it was taken in 1867. After some research, I found out that an army luitenant named James Moss organized a small unit of African-American cavalrymen. The unit was designated the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps. The soliders rode 40 miles each day from their base in Missoula, Montana to prepare for a much bigger event: the following year, the men traveled nearly 1,900 miles to St. Louis, Missouri. This picture may actually be of the 25th Corps. Most of the men in formation appear to be in uniform and armed. Maybe the lone man on the left is a reporter?

Perfect water?

So yesterday morning I went out to chat it up with the painters as they worked on my neighbors house. One of them, Curtis, asked me what I had on the agenda for the day. I told him I was going to get in a mountain bike ride. So he told me he wanted me to try out something and get back to him on it. He hands me a bottle of water called Perfect Water. He says it's brand new on the market and yadda yadda yadda. Apparently what makes it special is that they have shrunk down the molecules in the water. What this means is that for each mouthful you drink, you get more oxygen. He did this demonstration that blew me away. I'm going to video it and put it up here so that people can tell me if they think this is legit or completely bogus. Of course, Curtis wanted me to buy a case of the water. It sells for 2 bones for a 16oz bottle. I wasn't sure but he came by this morning and gave me a case of it to drink for the next few days and see what I think. Anyone heard of this stuff? I'll go to school in the next day or so and shoot a video of the demonstration that Curtis did.

Busy day

I took a day off from the bike today but there was still plenty of things to do. My HOA was pinting the deck and doing some things to the outside of the house so we decided to leave. We drove to the Apple store up in Denver to look at a new laptop. I've always been a PC user but this new Macbook is really neat. I haven't had too much time to play with it yet because Heather is all over it but I'll get my chance.

Next we had to stop at Biggies up in Conifer. We met with Mark and he got us all squared away in terms of alcohol for our wedding next week.

Now we're getting ready to have some Papa Murphy's Hawaiin pizza followed by however many ice cream bars I can get down my gaping pie hole.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm constantly trying to find different rides to keep me interested and today I started under mostly sunny conditions and climbed my way up to Rampart Range road. As soon as I got to the top I heard the dreaded thunder. I know I'm going to have to man up during the race and deal with Ma Nature so I kept going. It's amazing how the threat of 121 jigowatts of electricity can put a little extra pep in your step. It rained the whole way to Monument but I got to test out my rain gear. I made it to Monument in 1.5 hours. Once there I stopped for some food and then got moving again.

I rode all the way back to Colorado Springs on the Santa Fe trail. For those back's reminiscent of the Katy Trail but without the messy chat rock. As I neared the Springs, I had to dodge the occasional homeless person that had set up camp on the trail. Then I hit highway 24 and started the climb back up the mountain to the mother ship. Unfortunately, I hit the Pass right about rush hour and the lower portion of it is a bit sketchy that time of day. Wouldn't you know bride to be was on her way back from running errands and honked at me just as I was at Cave of the Winds. There was a brutal headwind so I gladly got in the car and blamed it on the traffic. I got a ride up the hill for 5ish miles or so until the town of Cascade. She dropped me off there and I started up again. I was so tired of the wind and, I'll admit it...I did curse randomly.

I've been hitting it pretty hard this week and I was just about blown to bits so I had to stop. I whipped up a liquid meal and recouped a bit. 15 minutes later I was ready to roll. Unfortunately the Alma wasn't. I was on a flat. Now...someone...I'll leT that remain under locK and key...was just talking about how good I have it in that department. I never flat. I blame the stupid thorn on bad mojo. After it was fixed I hustled back up the mountain.

The ride ended up being 53 miles and the time was 4:21. That's 20 hours of riding in 6 days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Taking in the sights

After yesterday's ride I had a hankerin' for a BBQ samich and cole slaw from Whole Foods. I forgot my phone and ended up seeing no less than half a dozen things that were worthy of a photo. Just stuff like:
1. A gal in downtown Springs that was pushing a very colorful bike that looked quite heavy. As I sat at a stop light and stared I finally realized that she had a huge boom box that appeared to be connected to the handlebar with Duct tape. Reminded me of a guy I used to know named Sherman.
2. I also saw a rim shop that had various offerings of blingy goodness on display out front. The one that caught my eye was a Dayton that I swear was 4 feet tall. I really wanted to stop in an inquire about the set.
3. A guy that was wearing some fire engine red pants with a white and red plaid shirt.

Anyways...we had to venture back down to Colorado Springs tonight because the feed store up here closed while I was having fourths on ice cream and my precious dog needed food. We like to drive around and look at houses so we took the side roads on the west side of town and as I rounded the corner I hit paydirt.

I really want to get under this thing and take in the details.

By the way...your eyes are fine. That plate DOES say radillac.

Rampart Reservoir

I left the house a bit late today b/c I got tied up talking to a guy that is staining my neighbors house and will be doing mine tomorrow. It was interesting to say the least. More on that tomorrow.

I decided to ride up to the reservoir and check out the singletrack that surrounds it. I think it's about 13 miles for the full loop. It was a good day save for the hurricane winds. That singletrack was so fun I had to do a second lap. Then I cruised down a forest service road and bombed the singletrack back down into town. The ride was 4.5 hours and 40.4 miles. That makes 13 hours on the bike in the last 3 days. I ate 4 Drumsticks when I got home. I loves me some ice cream.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I goofed around on Ring the Peak again today. I started at Horsethief and worked my way down towards Chipita Park. Instead of going down the hike a bike into Chipita, I decided to take the trail that forks to the right. It has some killer singletrack that winds through a meadow and it's bermed on the edges so you can just rail it. It put me on Pikes Peak highway maybe 3 miles up from the pay booth. When I got to the booth, I was waved over by several rangers. They wanted to know where I came from. It was a great opportunity for a one liner but I could tell they were upset about something. So I told them the truth and they didn't buy it. I explained in more detail before they told me that bikes were not allowed in the area. I apologized but they didn't seem satisfied. They threatened to issue me a ticket. I'm not a person that enters areas that are marked "No Trespassing". I take that kind of thing very seriously. After we discussed it further, one ranger finally figured out the fork that I was talking about. He knew that it was not marked in any way and just told me to not do it again. Surely I'm not the first person to take that fork in the trail. Despite the misunderstanding, it was still a sweet day on the trail.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

THF Realty

This company has always been extremely supportive of all things cycling. I don't even know if there is a team based in St. Louis that is not sponsored by them. Like me, Dan Schmatz is a St. Louis native. We both attended Parkway West High School, raced against each other before he got silly fast and worked for the Big Shark Bicycle Company. Dan is a very talented bike racer who has ridden for teams like Health Net/Maxxis, Sierra Nevada/Kodak Gallery, and BMC (to name a few). After a successful career, Dan decided to settle down in Louisville, Colorado with his wife Myriam, dog Kayla and raise their new son, Samuel. One of Dan's goals was to stay active in cycling and so he set out to establish a pro developmental team to help younger riders work through the system.

Ghisallo Sports is the shop that has gone above and beyond to make sure that I have the best equipment possible to see me to Durango. They are also very much involved with THF Racing. Ghisallo was kind enough to supply me with a set of clothing for my ride but could not spare a second set from their own racing team for me. So...THF stepped up. It's a great way for a new team to be involved in the fight against cancer and I'm thrilled that I'll be wearing their clothing during my ride. Normally you would only see these clothes worn by some seriously fast guys based in the Front Range and St. Louis as they go head to head with the bigger name teams.

If you happen to see this clothing crawling along at a snails pace anywhere on the Colorado Trail, I just want you to know that my speed is in no way representative of what they are capable of throwing down. Thank you Ghisallo for coming through again and to Dan for helping out as well. I appreciate it.

This photo was taken unbeknownst to me. I'll get a better one tomorrow that shows the pearly whites.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Our house got struck by lightning on Tuesday afternoon so I've been a little busy taking care of things. We got incredibly lucky because the house did not catch on fire. I was home and watching tv when it happened. A nasty storm moved in and I heard some thunder that sounded nearby so I figured I better turn off the big electrical things. I shut the laptop and was just about to stand up and walk 6 feet across the room to an outlet and unplug the tv when it struck. It was crazy loud and there was a massive flash. I thought someone called in an air strike. The lightning came through the wall and left a hole about the size of a .22 round. It burned the wall, blew some drywall mud and paint off from around the window and split a 1" oak sill lengthwise. Later, I also found drywall mud and paint gone from an upstairs bedroom wall.

The LCD flat screen tv is no more and neither is a laptop, all the satelite tv equipment and wiring and DVD recorder. So now we're dealing with insurance people on getting those things replaced. I hope this is not going to be a painful process. I would think that there's little room for arguing when it comes to lightning but we'll find out on Monday when the adjuster gets here. A repairman came by today and said he recommended replacing all the above things. With grad school, getting ready for this race, and taking care of last minute details for my wedding on the 21st, this is definitely not helping. Although, I suppose there's never a good time for lightning to strike your house. I'm incredibly fortunate that the house didn't get burned down and that no one was hurt. It was a weird experience. It's strange how some things got fried and some seem fine...for now. The electrician said that with lightning, things go seem perfectly normal now and then take a dump 2 weeks from now.

Now I know that Colorado is the second highest state in the US for lightning damage. The first? Florida.

We think this is where it came out:

Don't know what happened here.

Monday, June 2, 2008

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I got rides in of 5, 4, and 4 hours in length. I did a little hiking on Saturday and took Sunday off. Today I got 4.5 tough and frustrating hours in but I still managed to cover 39 miles. I crashed where a fat, 4 year old girl should have been able to get through and hurt my knee and bruised my ego. One day this week I will shoot for an entire loop on the Ring the Peak trail. I think I can put in a respectable time but we'll see.

Pretty technical trail much of the way today.

This stream was screaming for someone (me) to fish it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This little guy isn't trying to kill me or Dharma. We have loads of these guys around the house. We don't feed them but I'm sure the same idiots that leave their trash on the porch after bears continually get into it have them somewhat trained. This one ran right up and laid down in front of me one morning. I sat and watched him for 20 minutes and then he got bored and left. I never get tired of seeing wildlife.

Spidey senses

They were on full alert yesterday when I was checking out a trail. I decided to walk it with the dog and her hackles were up, ears back. I always know that there are lions in the area but yesterday I definitely felt strange. I got back down and saw this sign. Wouldn't surprise me at all if one was taking more of an interest in me and/or Dharma than normal. I didn't get any pictures of the trail but it's prime lion habitat. Super overgrown on both sides of the trail and the bushes are head tall.