Saturday, June 30, 2012

On a lighter note

The people that have been kind enough to open their doors up to us left last night to go camping for the weekend. Just a little bit ago, we decided to let the dogs out in the backyard and throw the ball a bit. Heather took over the throwing duties because I decided to shave my legs to pass the time. Recently I started using an electric shaver because I find razors to be frightening. It doesn't get as close owned but that's fine. I'm actually about done with the whole shaving thing in general. To be honest, the biggest motivator for me to do it all anymore is that after a 12 hour day on singletrack, it's just easier to clean up and on the odd chance that I do crash and get a decent cut, it does make the fist aid in a remote area easier.

Anyways...I'm out there getting after it when all of a sudden I hear a small voice across the yard. I look up and there's a little girl in the neighbors yard. She was probably 5 and she was grilling us. Who were we, why were we here, did we know the people that owned the house and their little girls, did we wanna see her favorite rocks? Finally...she says, "What are you doing?" I say..."Nothing." Who wants to try to explain to a 5 year old why they're shaving their legs? "That thing that's in your hands...what are you doing to your legs?" Heather is laughing at this point and mumbling that I should explain that I am shaving my legs. Finally, I say, "Have you ever heard of stranger danger?" She says, "No." I say, "Well I have and I don't know you so I'm taking my razor and going inside." Heather was laughing too hard to get up out of the chair. I was really hoping she wouldn't have a drop of her soda go down the wrong pipe.



The Waldo Canyon fire is now 30% contained which is pretty good in my opinion. If you imagine a fire with a 100 mile perimeter then this would equate to 30 miles of that perimeter being contained. Doesn't seem like much but you also have to take into accound the type of rugged terrain that we are talking about in this example. There are many places where they simply cannot get boots on the ground and are relying on aerial drops to cool things off.

With that said, there is still a line due south of Woodland that T's into highway 24 that crews are still concerned about. It has held for about the last 2 days but the weather expected for today is not as favorable as it has been. Today they expect less cloud cover (which will heat things up) and they also expect more wind. The big nknown for us is always the direction that the wind will come from. Typically, it blows up the ridge that runs along the highway but if it swings and comes from the SE, it could very easily jump the line they dug and backburned from and start working it's way towards Woodland one ridge at a time which is precisely what it did the first several days. of this mornings press conference, the mandatory evacuation is still in effect.

WARNING: this is now going to take a slight political swing.

At the end of every press conference they always turn it into a question/answer session for the citizens in attendance. Today one guy got up and was concerned about the impact that this fire was going to have on our city long term (we've essentially lost this seasons tourist revenue, businesses are hurting and most have shut down, etc.). So the Mayor and his left hand man (can't recall his exact title) were encouraging everyone to support the local businesses. Now I wasn't in attendance as we stream the conference every morning but my frustration with this is that twice now in the 7 years I have been teaching in Woodland Park, the citizens (and business owners in particular) have not supported a Mill Levy which would provide more money for our school district. This is MY business. We wouldn't be cutting programming every year, class sizes would not be in the 30's, people like me who have a Masters degree and 11 years experience might actually be able to make $40,000 a year, we might be able to un-freeze the pay scale and folks could get their steps for the first time in 6 years!! When the educators talk to business owners about the importance of a Mill Levy, things always become heated. Woodland Park has made it very clear how they feel about the importance of education. It will be very difficult for me to go back into town and go to dinner or purchase things from stores in town as opposed to waiting until we run errands down in the Springs to do that, or to hire someone in town to repair my deck instead of having someone come up the mountain to do it, etc. I started to make a comment addressing this via facebook but then realized that my name would be known and that's not good for my livelihood. It's unfortunate because it's a valid point to make and at a time when those that are steadfastly on the other side of the fence might actually be able to see it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Waldo Canyon latest

It's been a real emotional last few days. I haven't seen my wife in 2 days now so that has not helped me from being kind of a crank. I have both pups with me and I think they're stressed out and I hate to see that. Yesterday we pretty much just laid in bed and streamed news online all day. If we are all in bed they seem to relax more and just fall asleep. If I move to the kitchen then they get ramped up.

I just got done watchng this mornings press conference and there was a sense of optimism from everyone involved. That NW corner of the springs that got devastated so much is still a huge concern and most of the divisions are down there trying to keep it fom making a run up the front range where there really aren't that many natural fire breaks. The encouraging news is that the line along highway 24 (this is the artery that leads to Woodland Park from Colorado Springs) is holding. There have been times when embers have jumped the highway and spotted up but they have all been put out. From what I understand, crews were stationed about every 50 yards to watch for spots and then radio for assistance to get them extinguished as soon as they jumped over. So the highway seems to be working as a solid fire line. I think there is still a really big area of concern right by Cave of the Winds (from the pics shown on the news, this area is probably a quarter to half a mile off the highway but in an area where they can't get crews to because of the terrain so they have been doing lots of drops to try to cool it off).

The fire has not advanced up by Rampart Reservoir (on our side at least) so it looks like the work they have done up there is paying off. The fire line runs from the base of the ridge at the highway all the way to to the top by Rampart Range Road and forms a T with the highway. A bit further up towards Woodland, crews are working to build a fire line (essentially a big trench) from 24 all the way up to Rampart Range Road. They have also widened Rampart Range Road quite a bit to increase that break line. As a fail safe, they have also gone back much closer to Woodland and are working to establish more of the trenches up the ridge to Rampart Range Road just in case the previous lines failed to hold. It will be interesting to see these in person as they sound pretty stout. The winds continue to prevail in a NW direction which is good for us and our home. Containment is holding at about 15% and I don't know for sure (but I would guess) that total acrage is still about 19,000. As of the 11:30 press conference, we are still not permitted to re-enter our home just yet. 

That's all the news I have for now.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Waldo Canyon

Yesterday at about noon we were officially evacuated from our home as the fire crept closer to the ridge line above us. I think that with the unpredictable afternoon wind that the storms might bring, officials wanted to be safe and just get that whole side of town out quickly. I keep hearing officials who have battled fires all over our nation say that they have seen this fire do things that no other fire has done (jump multiple ridges at a time, burn and advance faster going down a mountain than when going up, etc.). In a press conference this morning, I heard one fire fighter say that in 20 some odd years of fighting widfires, he saw something last night that he had never seen a fire do. It's weird to me. I just think of fire burning things up but it's much more technical than that. It's intriguing.

Anyways...after being told to leave, we ended up going to the Red Cross shelter up in Divide but they were already full and it was gridlock leaving town. We sat in the parking lot of a bar that we sometimes eat at but I couldn't see as much as I wanted to. I convinced Heather to head back into town so we could watch the ridge above our house more closely. We ended up sitting in the City Market parking lot watching the C-130's hammer the ridge. It was the first time that we were able to see flames right in town. Heather and I joked that we were now pretty damn close to being white trash. There we sat with as much of our personal belongings crammed into the car as possible, with 2 pit bulls, and eating store bought fried chicken out of a box (hey...we were hungry). I told Heather we should take of our shoes and asked if she'd lose the bra but she kept it on. We hung out there for a few hours and began to lose hope that they would allow us back into our humble home that evening and decided to start the long, back roads drive towards the Denver area where we would stay with our friends Scott and Kim. Bodhi showed his appreciation by promptly leaving a shit on the carpet while Dharma opted for a pee.

As of this morning, the fire is now 18,500 acres but the really alarming statistic involves the number of homes lost (approximately 300). This morning I was able to see some aerial pictures of the NW area of Colorado Springs and it is nauseating. One thing is for damn sure...when you are told to grab what is truly important in your life and get quickly realize how many extraneous things you have. I foresee some changes after all of this is done and the word "simplify" comes to mind.

Not sure what else to say at this point.

I hope you are all well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waldo update

As was expected, this morning's press conference for the Waldo Canyon Fire update was hard to hear. I know there are many friends/family that are concerned about Heather and me as well as the dogs and even our home. Please understand that this is a very complicated fire. Many of the images that you are probably seeing in your local news are taken from the highly populated areas down the mountain in Colorado Springs. We are in an unusual situation way up here. We live at just under 9,000' but we are surrounded by peaks and ridges so our view is relatively limited. We cannot see any of the smoke or carnage that is happening down the pass or on the NW side of Colorado Springs where the fire exploded late yesterday. This morning I am having coffee and looking out the windows to a cloudless sky. As I look to the east and, specifically, at the top of the ridge I can see some smoke already. This is how things have been since Saturday. The fire seems to take a bit to wake up and get hungry. 

The latest numbers are right at 15,500 total acres burned (24 square miles), 5% containment, and 32,000 people evacuated. 26,000 of those people were evacuated from the NW corner of Springs late yesterday. The image below (although horribly graphic) is from that corner of Springs. That fire came up to the top of a ridge and then ran down it in a time of 30 minutes. Seasoned professionals were seen with their jaws wide open as they watched this happen. I heard one person describe it as looking like lava.   

The fire did advance much closer to us last night but it is still just up on the ridge and we cannot see flames (I did check very early this morning as I slept listening to the scanner). The fire has now wrapped about halfway around Rampart Reservoir (which is our local reservoir that is located on top of that ridge above me) and devastated that half which truly saddens me as it will never look the same to me again. The bears, mountain lions, deer, and the Rampart Elk herd were likely harmed but if they were able to get out safely, we won't see them up there again. There was a report that last night at one point an ember was able to jump over the reservoir and develop into a spot fire on the other side but crews were able to get that spot under control and extinguished. This is amazing to me. I ride from the house up to the reservoir multiple times each week. It takes me 45 minutes to hit the trail from the front door so that gives you an idea how close it is but it's probably 750' higher in altitude than our house. The trail around the reservoir is 13 miles total and it's gotta be .5 to 1 mile across that reservoir. The updraft created from the fire is incredibly strong.

The issue for us is the afternoon storms that we tend to see here in the mountains. In a normal year, these storms can produce a lot of precipitation but we have been in a drought for the last two years so about all they are producing is lightning and huge wind gusts. That's when the damage is really happening. These wind gusts can easily be 40mph out of the west and then shift to 70 mph out of the east. We loaded up more belongings last night and we receive texts for evacuation updates. All we can do is wait. I have gotten multiple messages via email, text, facebook, etc., from people asking why we are still here. We do not have a deathwish and we are not trying to go down with the ship. If we get bumped to voluntary evacuation we will likely leave our home. During an emotional talk with my dear wife last night, I think we both realized that trying to look in each room of our home and determine what's irreplacable and what's not is precisely what we just did last summer at her parents (and for all intents and purposes) my parents as well. We simply don't want  to do it. That is probably the best explanation I can give as to whay we are still here. Some will get it. Others won't. Nobody truly needs to. We appreciate everyone's concerns as well as the well wishes and offers and will continue to try to keep the updates coming either here or on facebook or both.

Be safe.

Monday, June 25, 2012


My lack of activity here does not mean that things have been boring. My training for this years Colorado Trail Race continues to go well. I have still been a bit skeptical in my own ability as to whether or not I can tackle that beast on a singlespeed bike but I become more confident every ride and I begin to enjoy riding with only one gear each ride as well. Just recently I did install a suspension fork on the Salsa as I have been doing some very technical sections of the CT the last few weeks and my neck has been hurting quite a bit. 

On Saturday I was supposed to leave for a 3 day trip to test out some things and get an idea of how things are progressing. I wasn't planning on leaving until early evening so I was napping the morning away. At about noon, I woke up and came down the stairs to see a huge plume of smoke over the hills just south of town. We have been having a lot of issues with fires this summer and in particular this past week in my town. Authorities suspect that we have a serial arsonist at work up here and he, she or they have started about 20 fires in the same fashion just last week. Fortunately, people were able to get to them pretty quickly and get them put out (sometimes just home owners equipped with shovels). I think we all feared it was only a matter of time before one of them had more time to grow. I actually drove down the mountain to get a closer look at knew this one had had enough time to breathe and it would be big.

I called my wife and expressed some concerns about leaving for my trip but she said I should go (which I did not expect to hear). I felt really anxious in the early afternoon while gathering gear. Reluctantly, I started pedaling towards Denver at abouy 5 and 4 hours later I was setting up my bivy and making some dinner. I slept horribly that night because I had made some pretty drastic last minute changes to my sleeping system to satisfy my curiosities. They were satisfied at 2 in the morning.

I had a delicious breakfast consisting of a cherry fruit pie smothered in coffee grounds and hit the road. I saw two huge bull snakes in section 2 of the CT (seen more big Bulls this summer than in the last 5). The first was a 5 footer and was probably the meanest damn snake I'd seen in years. I didn't even pick it up. It was pissed off and put on quite a show. The second one was much more docile and I did pick that one up and check it out for a bit before moving it off the trail. I was making killer time for me and riding an ideal pace. At the end of section 3 is about a 10 mile fire road to Bailey and a climb that I have never ridden. I cleaned it easily. It's not a hard climb so I can't say why it always gives me fits but I know it's likely just because I'm in pretty good enduro shape right now. I made it into Bailey and stopped at the first bar because I had to have a salad. Within seconds of turning my phone on I had several text messages about the fire and our safety and a voicemail from Heather. I called her and she wanted me to start heading home because we had been placed on Precautionary Evacuation.

I wolfed down my salad, had 5 Cokes and a pitcher of water and then grabbed the grilled chicken sandwich and took off and started pedaling. About 2 hours later and now only 25 miles from home I hit my Help button on my SPOT so Heather could come and get me. I made it into Deckers and stopped. I drank the best damn 24 ounce Tecate in the world, grabbed a Coke and hit the road after talking briefly about how spandex just makes me feel so damned sexy to a toothless guy in an old Ford pickup. I made it almost out of the canyon when I finally saw Heather come around a corner. Her car was already loaded with important papers, pics, and PC's.

About 3 miles further down the road, we saw 2 planes and a chopper and tons of people pulled over checking out a fire just about a quarter mile off the road. It eventually torched 20 acres before they got it under control. As we got closer to town we could hardly see much at all. Since then, crews continue to fight the blaze and it continues to creep towards us. As of this morning it was 5.5 miles down the mountain.

Today alone there were 4 additional fires nearby but they were all put out. The main fire is now called the Waldo Canyon fire. It has now burned about 4500 acres and is 5% contained. We have ust been sitting in the house watching news. We can't go anywhere really. The highway leading to Colorado Springs is shut down because a portion of the fire is very close to jumping the highway. We also need to stay close to home in case we do get evacuated. I have discovered that it is incredibly hard to look at things throughout my home and determine what gets to come with me if I'm told I need to be out in 30 minutes. Most things have some sort of sentimental value.  
This is the fire creeping closer and closer to Garden of the Gods.

This is highway 24 at the bottom of the pass that leads up to my town on Saturday. 

Things are pretty crazy right now. Colorado has wildfires in Fort Collins, Leadville, Durango, Colorado Springs, and many other places as well. Smoke is everywhere and new fires are popping up every few hours. None of the CT is actually on fire right now but it will certainly be interesting to see if that changes and how the CTR is impacted in the next month. I know several people that have already dropped their name from the start list due to issues with smoke at the least.

Hope you're all fine and safe. Thanks for looking. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

10 Mile Range

Today I was supposed to do a longer ride with a lot of climbing and some hiking and pushing. I headed over to Breckenridge and the plan was to start at the Gold Hill Trailhead for the Colorado Trail and head up and over 10 Mile and then drop down into Copper Mountain and see what kind of time I was running. I swear in the 2009 CTR when I last rode this stretch of trail it took me 4 hours to make it over. Sometimes I am not great with numbers but I was riding with a guy named Rob from North Carolina who had come out early for the race that year and he pre-road that section and he was the guy that said 4 hours and we were dead on with that time. This section is only 12 miles but it's a lot of vertical and the downhill into Copper is really rough right now but that might have been the rigid fork talking to me.

I think I'm in pretty good shape as I was down in Copper having delicious Combos, a Slim Jim and a Coke in 2.5 hours and I candy assed that downhill because I was getting beat up. I was not riding all that hard either and could have held a conversation on all but a few steep pitches.

After my snacky cakes, I jumped back on the CT and started to climb a bit up the next 12,000 foot pass that comes right away (Kokomo). I did not go all the way up because I would have had to just come right back down. I tooled around Copper Mountain for a bit and then jumped on the bike path that leads to Frisco and, eventually, back to Breck. At 5.5 hours I was feeling a bit of the climbing but wanted to go a bit more so I started up Boreas Pass. Again, I did not go that far up but I just wanted to get some more climbing in. I ended with about 6 hours of riding and right at 45 miles.

I continue to struggle with whether or not I should try and ride the singlespeed in this year's race. I do think I have to put a suspension fork on since I'm not a young buck anymore and my disc and arthritis issues tend to flare up a bit after the nastier stuff. I worry that going single will open the door for an issue but I really feel like that setup keeps me from being an idiot. I don't know why. In Salida's race it was so easy for me to spin and let the others go up the trail. CTR is totally different because we're talking days where racers can come back after rockin it on day one. It seems to be easier for me to ride my gig and that has been the issue every time I throw a leg over a bike because I'm too damned competitive. I could always hang tough for a 2 hour XC race but not for 500 miles.

Enjoy the pics. It was a gorgeous day although a bit hazy from all of the wildfires going on right now throughout the state. Thanks for checking in .

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New jacket

Normally my rain wear consists of a Marmot Precip jacket. It's light but it's only marginally better than wearing a Hefty bag. I've gotten by with it for years now but I've never liked it and I really was disappointed in it after hiking out of Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park this past fall. I was soaked when I made it out. I have been looking at jackets for about 2 years now. For the last several months I have been looking really hard at one by Gore Bike Wear that retails for $280. I had heard amazing things about it and I knew that something made of Gore Tex would be in a completely different league than the Precip but I could not find one to try on. In fact, I could only find one in the UK. 

So yesterday I happened to be down at Colorado Cyclist and had previously seen this new jacket from Mavic. It's the Stratos H2O. I had never tried it on because of the price tag but decided to yesterday. I liked it. Then I weighed it. My Precip weighed 13 ounces and the Mavic was almost an even 16. I looked back at the price tag and dry heaved a bit. $400. One of the fellas was talking to me about it and I said I'd think about it as it was more than I was planning to pay. He walks away and comes back with, "I can help you out a bit with it at $340." Ruh roh. That's a good chunk of change. After doing several laps around the store, I decided to get it. I figured that wasn't much more than the Gore jacket and I would have payed international shipping from the UK and then I would be damn close to this one. 

It's got a super nice, adjustable cuffs, a serious hood that is removable, fresh air vents in the front and back to channel cooler air in and hotter air out, fully welded seams, a clever little clear window on the left cuff that easily shows your watch, and an off-center front zipper that doesn't rub on my chin or get caught up in my beard (when I have one). 

Unfortunately, I probably will not need this thing for a bit here as the drought continues but I'll be sure to report back on it after I've used it because I could not find one single review on the internet. 

All of Colorado is on fire...

Governor Bill Owens said these words back in 2002 when the Hayman fire was going on. We don't have any fires that are quite as bad the Hayman but we do have multiple, serious fires going on right now. A couple days ago we had one about 20 miles west of Woodland Park but it was contained pretty quickly. This morning Heather and I went for a hike with the dogs and saw this when we were heading back to the car. This is taken just above Woodland Park and our home. We did not see it when we started the hike. 

This is at the bottom of Bluebird Hill leaving Woodland Park and heading to the next town of Divide which is where I thought the fire looked like it was.

Once we made it to Divide we could see it was more likely out in Florissant. As of these pics, this fire has been burning for about 6 hours now and is already 200+ acres with no containment. It is extremely dry out here right now. I fear that this fire will be very bad. There is a lot of remote country in the area and A LOT of beetle killed trees out there that are just big match sticks waiting to go up.

It's one thing to see pictures of fires like Hayman or the High Park fire up in FOCO right now but it's another thing entirely to see it with your own eyes. It's heading our way so I'm hoping crews can get it under control. I'll be keeping an eye on this one and seeing if there is any volunteer work that needs to be done (volunteers are cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for the crews up north). The sound of planes, choppers, and sirens running over and through town right now is silly. Evacuations are already starting on the far west side of our county.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Cabo

This was just one of the killer sunsets we got to watch while staying in Cabo. This happened to be when we were coming back into the bay (Sea of Cortez) where all the nightlife really happens. 

As you head out from the Sea of Cortez, you will see all these rocks off to the right. This is where the Arch is that a lot of tourists want to get a picture taken. Depending on the year, sometimes these beaches are available and sometimes not. We were told it happens about every 4 years that you can actually go to them. You need to hire a water taxi to get out there. This particular small beach is called Lovers Beach. It is on the Sea of Cortez side and the water is calm and warm and this little area is fantastic for diving and snorkeling. The sea lions all hang out on the exposed rocks in the water.

This is the other side of Lovers Beach so this is now the Pacific Ocean. This beach is much bigger right now and it is called Divorce Beach. The water on this side is very cold and the breaks are violent and the currents are deadly. They say the two beaches are kind of like a relationship with one being all warm and fuzzy and the other being nasty and cold. Divorce Beach doesn't look all that bad in this picture but we were in between breakers. The wet area on the rock on the right side of the picture is probably 20-30 feet high.

What we have here is me re-hydrating after one of my workouts. I had to get a little creative down there this time so I ended up either running stairs for 30-60 minutes and then riding a stationary bike for up to 2 hours each day. Negra Modelo was crucial for keeping me going and I am considering putting in for sponsorship. I learned my lesson last time I was in Mexico. The shirt and hat stayed on as did socks when lounging by the pool. 

Duty Free

Traveling with my wife is fun but she's not much of a risk taker. She always thinks we're gonna get in trouble for something. Sometimes it can be a total buzz kill but I love her. This picture was taken in one of the Duty Free shops in Cabo while we were waiting to hop a plane. This is the biggest damn bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label I have ever seen. I wanted to buy it but I'm pretty sure it was around $171 after performing some quick Pesos to Dollars conversion math in my little brain. I was going to pick it up and hold it but I was nervous that I would drop it and it would break. If that were to happen I would have done the honorable thing and paid for it but this also would have meant that I would have been laying on my belly in the middle of the floor slurping booze until I was completely shit faced and then removing my shirt to sop up as much as possible and wring it out into an empty water bottle. Look at the girth on that bottle!! 

The reason that the entire bottle is NOT in the picture is because Heather thought we would get in trouble for taking a picture in the first place. What!!!  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


For me, the SBFL was probably the best ride I've put together in 5 years. Since 2008, I have put every ounce of my effort and focus on the Colorado Trail Race and it has avoided me each time. Every year I say that I am going to approach things differently but I never do. My goal for yesterday was pretty simple. I wanted to ride how I know I have to ride in order to finish a big ride. This means riding my pace, drinking when I know I have to, eating what I know works for me, etc. The strangest calm feeling came over me when Tom was giving last minute instructions. Finally, at 6:32 we started pedaling out of Salida and up towards the Mount Shavano traihead for the Colorado Trail. As we pedaled I was immediately hitting 159 beats per minute with my heart rate and knew I had to back off. This has always been the start of bad things to come for me. The singlespeed was actually a good thing yesterday because I simply couldn't spin fast enough and long enough to maintain the groups speed on the paved roads out of town. I took this picture before we ever even got out of town. I am the Red Lantern here...bringing up the rear. Normally this is a huge shot to my precious ego but I was fine with it. 

We probably had 10 or so miles to get to the trail and I wasn't really feeling all that great and had not been feeling that well since coming back from Mexico but I hoped I could ride through it. By the time we had climbed up tot he trail, I had brought back a dozen riders while still staying in my comfort zone. Maybe a mile and a half after getting on the trail, I lost the front end on a loose downhill and crashed and cut open my elbow and forearm. I spent a few minutes picking rocks out of the deeper cuts and then got moving again. Soon I was at the Princeton Hot Springs. I had planned on getting some ice cream but I felt great and decided to keep going. The climb to get back to the trail is kind of a nasty mix of pavement and then fire road. I told myself I'd ride as much of it as possible but walk when I started seeing a heart rate of 163ish. At one point as I was walking, I looked behind me to see two guys riding and slowly working their way up to me. They both rode for Honey Stinger but I didn't recognize the first one. The second guy was wearing his leaders jersey from the Breck Epic stage race. It was Dax Massey. I have no clue why, at mile 30, they were just passing me as I had not seen them since leaving Salida. I got back on and climbed the rest of the way with them and a few miles of the trail (with much higher heart rate numbers than I should have) before letting them go. 

The next stop was Buena Vista and I hit it right at noon. The 3 guys I had mostly been riding with had other ideas for lunch and I knew what I needed so I headed for Subway. I got a 5 dollar foot long and then I grabbed another one with veggies to go and took off. The next section was in the rocks and open area just east of Buena Vista. It was like riding in an oven as temps were in the upper 80's. The trail we road back there was the Midland Trail. This is an old railroad grade that was mostly flat. This house was in one of the clearings and highway 24 is just past this house. I love adobe houses. 

There were times where I suffered but, up to that point, I never thought that I would not be able to finish at least the shorter, 88 mile loop. 

This is a view of some of the Collegiate Peaks just west of BV.

More of the Collegiate Peaks. Not long after this, I had to make the decision about whether to do the longer loop or stick to the short one. I decided to stick with the short one. I was really happy with how I was riding and wanted this day to be all positive. My other concern was that the area we were about to head into (for both loops) was very dry and I did not want to worry about running out of water and having things unravel. 

Nearing the end, we climbed up Bassam Park which is not a terrible climb other than being exposed to the sun the whole time and the fact that the climb just never lets up. The gradient is low but you're always having to stay on top of the gear. After making it to the top, you lose all that elevation gained on the downhill but then have a much more challenging climb to the top of Aspen Ridge. That climb is probably 5 miles and it's much rockier and steeper. Coming down off Bassam Park was the first time that I actually mumbled, "I'm gonna make it." I started to laugh and then got middle school female emotional. Since 2008, this was the first big ride I was going to make. Then I realized I still had a ways to go and a tough climb to deal with so I better keep my wits about me. 

I finally made it to the top of Aspen Ridge and started the long downhill finish back into Salida. I was ecstatic. The road was littered with big rocks and I wasn't even a mile into the downhill when I hit one bigger rock just the right way and sliced the rear tire wide open while doing 25mph. I got stopped and went to work putting a tube in but I counted about 13 other riders going by while I was fiddling around.  I can't remember the last time I flatted. The new tube was sticking out of the hole in the tire just a bit but a boot wouldn't hold with all that sealant still in there so the downhill back to town was slow but, luckily no one else passed me. 

I drank 17 bottles of water and burned just over 9,000 calories. This ride was a huge a confidence booster for me. I cannot wait for the July 30 mass start for the Colorado Trail Race. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


If you are one of the people that's on my SPOT page to receive check ins, I'm sorry there's been several going out today. I was having trouble with my SPOT but I think I've got it all sorted now. The share page on the upper right of the blog is the one you will want to consult.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Big Friggin' Loop

On Saturday at 6:30 in the morning, 74 riders will line up at the start in Salida for the Big Friggin' Loop. This race is part of the Colorado Endurance Series and is being put on by Tom Purvis (of the Vapor Trail 125 fame). Any time Tom puts on an event, it seems to draw some real impressive riders. There are now actually two options for riders to take. Option A is about 88 miles and just a bit over 11,000' of climbing. Option B is 106 miles with just a bit over 13,000' of climbing. I'm not sure which route I will be doing yet and I plan on making that decision when the fork in the trail comes. If I had to
guess, I'd say a mere mortal could expect to be out there anywhere from 15-18 hours depending on the option they take. This does have me a bit concerned because the person that broke into my car recently and took my lights has not returned them yet so this could make the decision quite easy as I'd rather not try to find my way back to Salida in the dark with no light but we'll see (no pun intended).

Personally, I am not looking to race this route but to see how things are going thus far with my training and to see if perhaps I really can consider doing something even longer on my rigid singlespeed. We will leave town after the riders meeting and follow the VT125 course up to Blanks Cabin and then hop on the Colorado Trail and take that to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs and then continue on the CT to Cottonwood Pass Road where we will then bomb down to Buena Vista for ice cream. After leaving BV, we will jump on the Midland Trail and then climb up a couple of different gulches to the fork. The 106 mile route will continue on up towards Trout Creek Pass and have riders hiking up into the ghost town of Futurity where they can do a little scavenger hunt to look for a time bonus coin. Eventually, both loops will hookup on the Ute Trail (part of the official Tour Divide route which starts tomorrow) and make the loooooong downhill back into Salida for the finish.

I feel strange two days before this. I am not nervous but very excited. This is a big test for me. It's a long day of singletrack with a lot of climbing. This day very closely resembles any day in the Colorado Trail Race and it flirts with the overall VT125 course. The one thing that I always need to work on getting better at is not following others when the level of exertion starts getting higher than I can go. I could always manage this in cross country racing because we're talking about races that max out at 2 hours. With Ultras, when others start to leave me, I always know that if I just stick to what I know I can do, I will eventually see many of them come back to me later in the day but it is so hard for me to be complacent with getting dropped. What I really need to get through my head is the difference between getting dropped and choosing to let someone go up the trail for the time being. My primary focus will simply be sticking to my diet and hydration needs that I nailed down last year and the biggest thing will be sticking to my game plan and not being a jackass. I will have my SPOT tracker with me. I am testing it tonight on a shorter ride and then will throw up the track share page here before I take off. I don't think there is an official track page for the race but if I here from Tom that there is I'll throw that up as well. Below are some links to the topo maps that have the route in red so you can at least toggle back and forth between my track page and these and get a decent idea of where I'm at.


Monday night we took a taxi from our resort and headed into downtown Cabo. We had chartered a sailing boat and a crew to take us and a few other couples out for a few of hours. I have never been on a sailing boat before but I kept think of the Wedding Crashers scene where Owen Wilson talks about sailing down under and how everything is opposite. I hoped these guys knew what they were doing. The boat below was just outside of the bay in Cabo. We were told it belongs to the guy that is responsible for Washington apples. This boat was enormous. We circled it so we could see everything. It even had a private helicopter. We were also told that he actually has another boat and this one is the smaller of the two by about 300 feet. Pretty impressive but I did ask whether or not it had a canoe. It does NOT. Suck on it Mr. Washington. 

 This boat is almost like the one Rodney Dangerfield used in Caddyshack where he dropped anchor and it went right through Ted Knight's tiny sailboat and Dangerfield says, " scratched my anchor!"

This is us with our sea legs. We had not actually started sailing yet but after going closer to the rocks in the background and seeing the seals, we then headed out behind those rocks and started the sailing portion of the trip. The arch behind us is a very well known landmark in Cabo that lot's of other tourists get their pictures taken at. More on that later. 

OK...this is the important stuff. The boat we were on was actually pretty big. It had a full kitchen, a bedroom, and 2 bathrooms with showers. Part of the deal was that we had an open bar (which is really unusual in Cabo) and snacky items like nachos and salsa (again super weird for Cabo) and then bread, cheese and that kind of thing. I had a couple of beers while we were on our cruise but then I had to pee. So one of the 3 guys running the boat takes me below and shows me where the bathroom is. This is it. This picture does zero justice to the size of this toilet. The wooden portion in the left of the picture was storage I think but there is not much leg room. I guess fat guys don't sail because I can't imagine having to sit on this little toilet. The hole (or business section) of the toilet was about the diameter of a Red Bull can. You aimed for the hole and when you were done you hit this button and held it on for 5-10 seconds while a pump worked to take all that spent beer into a holding tank I guess. I couldn't help but ask the guy about what happens when you gotta go big boy potty. He said you make your deposit in that hole but that the paper goes in a bag because it can't go in the holding tank. I found the whole damn thing to be kinda gross. I'd rather shit in the woods. Sailers must really like to sail. 

Now when I was down on the poop deck, we were officially sailing. It's rough out there. To make matters more interesting, they decided it was time to make a turn. I have never been tossed around like that while holding my wiener and trying to hit the target. It got to the point that I was laughing hysterically. When I got done, I was kind of creeped out by the bathroom and wanted to get upstairs again so I did not take any more pictures of the place but just to the right of the sink (which would fill almost completely with water and overflow when the boat rocked to one side), is a small chair of sorts. Above it is a shower head. The floor of the bathroom is wooden slots. I guess if you need to shower, you just sit buck naked or stand and do your thing and all that water goes down through the floor and ends up somewhere.  


We touched down at Denver International late yesterday afternoon and then had to go through customs. We got our bags and stood in line waiting to be grilled. The guy asking the questions wasn't too terrible but Heather was stammering and stuttering with her answers. It was odd because she doesn't mind talking to people. I'm fine with it for work or personal reasons but I'm not the guy that normally and routinely starts conversations with strangers. In my head, I was like, "What are you doing? Pull it together will ya?" I kinda jumped in when the questions turned to whether or not we had brought anything back with us. At the Duty Free shop in the airport at Cabo, we purchased Vanilla and some cigars. My father in-law was a cigar smoker and I brought home a huge box of cigars from his house and some fancy cutters, lighters and even some trick leather carriers that hold one or two cigars. I'm not a cigar smoker but once in a blue moon I'll have one on the river. The ones I have may be really good cigars but I wouldn't know so I thought I'd buy some. Well, I ended up selecting some Cubans. These things were almost $20 a piece and I bought 3.

We get through the first Customs official and are standing in line for the next one when we get yanked and told to have a seat. Out of our entire plane, 4 travelers got pulled and the other 2 were single dudes. We chatted with the one guy while we waited and he seemed super sketchy. We watched while the first guy was released and they started in on #2. They had to tell him to stop fidgeting and keep his hands down where they could see them. They didn't find anything in his luggage but they also didn't check him. I think he had cocaine between his ass cheeks because he was relieved when they said he was free to go. I asked Heather if she thought we should take off running but she gave me the stink eye. Then I asked her if we should each keester a cigar. She mumbled something about sticking something up my keester if I didn't shut up.

We got up to the counter and the guy asked us what we had. Apparently, the first agent had marked "2" on our paper work so I said we had Vanilla and some cigars. He asked if they were Cuban cigars and I said, "Pretty sure." Now...Heather and I both know that Cuban cigars are not legal to have in the US but we honestly figured that if they were at the Duty Free store then we were golden. We did not take into account that other travelers might possibly be going to other destinations besides the US where it WAS ok to have Cuban cigars. So the agent ends up showing us where it states that we are not allowed to have them and then tells me that I have 2 options. The first would be for them to seize the cigars and complete some paper work. I asked the guy if he would like to avoid filling out paper work and he says yes. I'm assuming that if they had been seized that I probably would have also gotten in some sort of trouble and I don't need that. Option #2 was for me to destroy them right then and there.

Now...because the agent was beginning to loosen up a bit I figured there might be a smidgen of room for some humor. I asked if there was a third option that might include finding another of his Customs pals and heading some place nearby where we could smoke these bad boys. Needless to say, that did not go over well. I ended up destroying the cigars right there.

I still say we could have gotten away with it if Heather would only have been up for keestering a few of them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Back home

Heather and I just got back from 5 days in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We did lot's of cool stuff and I'll share pics in the next few days but I wanted to start with 2 of my favorites. I don't have a lot of experience with being out of the country and was really nervous the first time we went to Mexico but I was much more at ease this time (so much so that we actually took a cab into downtown Cabo one night to kick it). The language barrier is a big issue because I don't know much more Spanish than to be able to order a beer or Tequila and ask where the bathroom is. However, on our last night, we walked the beach and finally saw some locals fishing and I had to go check it out. 

The deep sea fishing in Cabo is unreal but I really prefer to work when I'm fishing instead of just sitting in a chair drinking beer and waiting for a fish to hit a lure. I enjoy casting and presenting the lure in different ways to trigger a strike and I like covering a lot of water and glassing for fish that are feeding. These guys were using bait which I don't know that I could do but I thought it was cool that we talked about fishing for quite a while and shared many laughs. We did have to use a lot of hand signals to understand one another but they really impressed me. One of the four guys was using a 10 foot surf rod with a spinning reel and either really small crabs or shrimp as bait. During the day you can catch these little crabs as the surf brings them in but you have to be quick because they are super fast and the surf was incredibly violent. Not even locals go into shin deep water because of the undertow. The other 3 guys (including the kid standing next to me) were all fishing by hand. I've never seen anything like it but I totally dug it and I'll do it next time we're down there. 

This is what the 3 were using. They made these with large diameter PVC pipe and a wooden dowel. The dowel is screwed in place from the outside of the pipe on each side and then they simply wrap super beefy monofilament around that. They run anywhere form 1 to 3 single hooks with a massive weight on the end. They get as close to the water in between breaks as possible and swing it over their head and heave it out. Then they essentially tight line fish and just feel with one finger. These guys had about a dozen fish (not sure what kind but I believe one was Tilapia) in a bucket anywhere form 14-18 inches. To keep from burning their finger, they have a finger glove for just the index finger that they hold the line with. I grabbed the kids finger to look at it and immediately knew what it was. Part of an inner tube that he cut down the middle and then stapled it so it was tight. Super simple. I was amazed. I use carbon rods and reels with crazy drag reels and this kid was getting it done and feeding his family for multiple days with stuff you could get from Home Depot.

As the sun set, we all sat there talking about fishing. They were curious about where we were from and we wanted to know more about them. This was a tough year for both Heather and myself. In the last few months I've been really down on people but I was really pumped to be able to talk to these guys (and I don't really like talking to people). When I shook their hands and said, "Gracias amigos", it was for more than just letting me check out their gear and pick their brains. Wish we had met earlier in the week. I would have loved to have fished with them.