Friday, July 29, 2011

Here we go

I don't have a whole lot to say about the effort this year. I'm excited to go but we'll see where my head's at once I get riding. It's been a rough summer. 3 weeks ago I felt like I was on another level. In the last 2 weeks I pulled something in my neck again, I had a sore throat that has now turned into a wonderful sinus infection, and to top things off, I had a lovely little saddle sore. I took 4 days off the bike totally and was drugged up and slept most of the day while we had out of town guests here (I'm a wonderful host). I used heat and ice on my neck when I wasn't sleeping and it's a bit looser now but still has a tight spot. My cold is on the way out but I still have that tingly head thing going on. And...I can now say that an irritated saddle sore doesn't hurt nearly as much as getting a shot directly in the middle of one does.

I'm still riding off road so my bike won't get the final cleaning/tune until early Sunday morning. I have the capacity to carry 8 bottles of water this year (in ounces...not literally 8 bottles). With 6 full bottle ounces and enough food to last me for 24 hours, I am at 40 pounds. That's at least 8 pounds lighter than in 2009 and I thought that was pretty well sorted.

I'm a little surprised at the number of starters on the list. There are some big names that are missing so they may still show up. The first 6 miles of singletrack are really overgrown and tight so that might be interesting. I have a solid game plan for this year and I'm confident that I can stick to it mentally and ride my own race. My heart rate was sky high on today's ride but that's likely from the illness/recent stress and the excitement of the looming start. If my legs and head are good then I hope to play a few big hands this year. We'll all know soon enough.

Thanks for checking in. Thanks for the support. Talk to ya later.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


That's the number of southbound racers as of tonight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


One of the things I miss about living in the midwest is seeing the storms move in from a long ways off and seeing them come to life. I used to love teaching weather. When I was doing a lot of stuff with my 35mm camera I'd be up on parking garages shooting film of them moving in. Out here, we sometimes get these really vivid colors either before a storm or immediately after it breaks. They don't last long. Maybe a minute. When it happens it's magical. It light's up the field in front of our house and the pines on the surrounding peaks. This doesn't do any justice but this is with zero editing. Right after I took this the lightning bolts started popping off in the orange.

Other new stuff

I waited a bit long this year on new shoes. That wasn't the plan but it's the hand I was dealt. I ended up buying the X Alp Elite shoes from Pearl Izumi. It's a bit different from the X Alp shoe I've used the last 3 years but I really like it. I will say that I have never had a more difficult time getting my cleats dialed in before. In the last 2 weeks, I have made multiple adjustments on every ride. The shoe might be cut a bit differently than the old pair but I also got a size bigger this time. I think I might have gotten it sorted today. This was the first ride that felt comfortable on my feet while pedaling. These shoes are incredible while hiking.

My other recent purchase was a new pack from Osprey. I have no clue why I didn't buy this pack sooner. It's that comfortable. With my old pack, I had to constantly throw it around on my back as it shifted on both trails and roads. This pack just doesn't move. It's also loaded with features. I have first aid stuff, tools, pump, tube, baby wipes, water filter stuff, and rain jacket hidden and I haven't put a thing in the main compartment yet.

I weighed my bike last night. I still haven't put on my new tires. They should be a bit lighter but not much. Bike, rear Carousel seat bag with bivy and bag, Revelate Designs gastank bag with enough food for 6 hours of riding, front Carousel roll bag with arm/knee warmers, rain knickers, wool socks, long sleeve base layer, fleece hat, down vest, and fleece mittens, GPS, and heart rate monitor all come in at 31.25lbs. I'm pretty sure I'm calling an audible right now in the area of my sleeping system and bringing a down bag instead of leaving it at home (although I'll make the final call at the last minute). If I did that, I could be sub 30 but I do think I'd be in trouble if I got hurt and had to hunker down for a long night in dropping temps. I always think back to '09 when I bivied at Camp Hale and totally froze through the night. I woke up with everything covered in thick frost. Tomorrow I'll load up the pack and see what it weighs and have a good idear of where I'll be. I remember complaining about how heavy 32lbs felt a month ago. Now I don't even notice it. I'm glad I rode fully loaded most of the summer.

Thanks for checking in. Hope you're all well.

Cycles of Life

The grassroots deal with Honey Stinger is fantastic and I'm proud to be a part of it but I was actually looking for more than just good deals on products. We've gone back and forth with each other since March and just were not able to hook up on any cycling clothing. They had jerseys in stock back then but no bib shorts. I was told several times that bibs were on the way but held off on ordering any clothing at all until everything was in. The website still shows no bibs but, after talking to them the other day, they've been in for a while now but won't be on the site. So I went to order them and now they are out of jerseys. I'm disappointed because I really wanted to represent them but I had to figure out something else because I needed clothing.

About a week ago, my friend Marshal said something about not really having anything to say about unfortunate events in life other than the typical things that folks say with good intentions. The night I happened to be reading his comments was a rough one for me but one thing caught my attention. Cycles of Life. I called Brian over at Cycles of Life up in Leadville a few days later and asked if he could set me up with some clothing and he told me to come on up. If you're in Pbville, stop in and check out the shop.

I am slowly getting out of the funk I've been in since the funeral. I don't know how things will go for me but we'll soon be finding out.

Monday, July 11, 2011


The drive back to Missouri was interesting. We found out about Dad's passing at lunch time on Thursday and the rest of that day and all of Friday would be a complete whirlwind. We tied up loose ends here, and hit the road at 0530 Friday. As we made our way through Kansas, something didn't feel right but I kept it to myself. The temps heated up and, at one point, Heather reached over to turn up the AC. That's when I knew something was wrong. She's never hot. The AC wasn't running as cold as it should be. I pulled over and found smoke coming from the back of the AC pulley. Things seemed better with the compressor off so I figured we would just have to run without the AC. Even though I knew that he had already passed, I felt a huge sense of urgency to get us to St. Louis as fast as possible.

About 100 miles later, I got off at Salina to get fuel and could hear the pulley singing. I knew we were not going to make it all the way and we'd be lucky to get to a gas station. Once at a truck stop I began to think about options. I finally limped 3 miles to an Auto Zone and went inside to ask about an AC fan clutch assembly. I was hoping to be able to replace just the pulley and retain the freon and the AC. Nobody in Salina had the clutch but Auto Zone had the entire compressor. So I started working in the parking lot and the 103 degree temps. My idea was to try to pull the clutch off the vehicle and swap it with the clutch on the new compressor. I wasted about an hour trying to make that work before I realized that the cover plate on the clutch had moved independently from the internals and this made it impossible to use a puller to remove the pulley from the compressor. So then I decided to just swap compressors. The compressor is held on by 4 bolts and then you have to remove 2 lines from it. I felt terrible releasing the freon into the environment but I felt like I needed to get my wife home faster than Tuesday (it was a holiday weekend and nobody was able to bleed the system and recharge it for me). And just so you know...I did try my best to come up with a way to bypass the AC entirely but Jeep uses one serpentine belt so when the AC goes, you don't go anywhere.

Soon we were on our way again and we finally made it to the house at about midnight. Normally the drive doesn't take nearly that long but I was stressed to the max, hot as hell, worried about my wife, concerned about the dogs in the heat, and I was not thinking clearly so it took a while to come up with a list of options and then go through them piece by piece.

The viewing was on Wednesday night and it was a tough pill to swallow. My father in law wanted a very traditional Catholic burial and, while I respect his wishes, I just didn't think he looked like himself and it was very hard for Heather and I to see him like that. I'll never forget watching that casket close. The trip to the cemetery wasn't any easier.

I'm back in Colorado now but Heather is still trying to handle some things back home. One thing Heather said pretty quickly after hearing the news was that this couldn't impact the CTR. I shrugged it off but she had that look in her eye and made it pretty clear. I didn't do much riding at all in St. Louis as the heat was simply unbearable. Today I pretty much napped all day and thought about things. Obviously, I have a lot of emotions right now. I'm sad. I'm very angry. I'm confused. I'm tired. I'm angry. But I'm not going to disrespect him and miss the race. I'm not going to use his passing as an excuse. I know I'm going to have to keep a leash on my emotions and not let them dictate things any different than I can let anyone else dictate things.

I've done a lot of thinking about faith. I truly believe that he will be with me. Watching down on me.

I miss him. I wish I had called him one more time.