A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Something to be Thankful For

Sitting here on Thanksgiving night I can think of many things to be thankful for -- the 25 family members who joined us for lunch today, the baked turkey, ham and, of course, BEEF (rib roast) we enjoyed with all the fixin's (mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, Grandma Angell's rolls, green beens, cranberry sausage stuffing, and Aunt Betty's cranberry relish), and the beautiful home we have to host such an event.

But I am also very thankful to be back up and running after taking eight weeks off to heal from my cycling accident and broken collar bone. Like last Thanksgiving, I started off today by running the Turkey Rock Trot 5K race in our neighborhood in Castle Rock. In my first week back in action I ran 17 miles (including today) -- not exactly "easing" back into it!

I began last Thursday with my usual 3.1 mile route and ran it in 33:36 (10:48/mile). The last time I had run it (before the accident) I clocked in at 27:33 -- a full six minutes or almost 2 minutes per mile faster!

On Saturday I ran my usual 4 mile route in 42:22 (10:31/mile). A little better, but still way off the pace I had been setting.

On Monday of this week I ran my usual 5K route again and finished in 31:46 (10:14/mile). More progress.

On Tuesday I went out for a 3.75 mile run with our dog Casey (who is also recovering from an injury!) and finished in 40:57 (10:55/mile). But this includes time for Casey to stop and smell lots of things (none of them were roses).

So, my goal for the Turkey Rock Trot was 31 minutes (10 minute miles). I thought this was pretty reasonable given that I only had one week to train.

Between Tuesday and today the weather in Denver took a severe turn for the worse. Temperatures dropped from highs in the 70s to highs in the 30s. And yesterday we got about an inch or so of snow. This morning it was 17F when I woke up and around 20F at the start of the race! The cold scared off at least half the 900 registered runners, but I was there with Leslie's cousin Bryan's wife Tammy and several hundred other brave souls.

Tammy and I ran the first mile together...but I was struggling to keep up with her. When my Garmin Forerunner 305 indicated we had finished the first mile in 8:15, I knew I couldn't keep up the pace so told Tammy to feel free to take off, which she did! But I kept pushing it pretty hard -- harder than I had since the Chicago Half Marathon in September (according to my Forerunner, my average heart rate for the race was 160).

When I crossed the finish line the time on my Forerunner and on the official clock read 27:21 -- 3:39 faster than my goal time! But it also showed the distance at 3.02 miles -- nearly a tenth of a mile short of a 5K. But even if you add another 50 or so seconds to my time (1/10 mile at a 9:00 pace), I'd still have finished almost three minutes -- or a minute a mile) ahead of my goal!

So tonight I am thankful that I was able to run this morning, that Tammy was there to push me for the first mile and that after one week of training I am nearly back to pre-accident form.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Whose Fault Is It Anyway??

When a bike is traveling in a bike lane on the right hand side of the street gets passed by a car which then turns right in front of the cyclist, creating a collision, whose fault is it? The driver of the car or the cyclist?

When stated so simply the answer seems so simple: the driver of the car violated the cyclist's right-of-way. And it really is that simple...until law enforcement's bias against cyclists gets in the way.

This type of accident, where a cyclist gets "right-turned," is very common. Unfortunately, it is also very common for the police to blame the cyclist by claiming that it is our obligation to yield to the car. As ludicrous as that sounds, I actually bought into that argument -- the one espoused by Officer Friendly of the Castle Rock Police Department in our conversation the week after my accident -- until a faithful DDublog reader (thanks, Terrance!) passed along a link to a column in VeloNews called "Legally Speaking with Bob Mionske: A Fatal Bias?" It is a must read for every cyclist who shares the road with our four-wheeled friends.

Bob Mionske is a former Olympic cyclist (1988 and 1992) and winner of the 1990 national championship race who became a lawyer after retiring from racing in 1993. Bob is also the author of "Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist." Anyway, after reading Bob's column, especially the story of Siobhan Doyle, a 31-year-old Portland, Oregon, cyclist who got "right-turned" in an accident eerily similar to mine, I began to question Officer Friendly's interpretation of the law.

In the Siobhan Doyle incident, the Portland police also failed to issue a citation to the driver. When asked why, the Police Bureau spokesman said, "Determining fault at a collision is a function of an investigation. The Police Bureau will respond to any collision but unless there are trauma injuries our only role is to help with traffic control, confirm that there is not a crime involved in the collision (Reckless Driving, DUII, etc.) and confirm that all motorists have a valid drivers license and insurance. We will also help those involved fill out an exchange form so they can resolve their differences through their insurance companies."

Ah. Insurance companies. Those unbiased purveyors of justice. Guess what the insurance company representing the driver of the car that turned in front of me "resolved" on my behalf? Allied Insurance a Nationwide® company On Your Side® actually had the nerve to claim that I was the "majority involved" party. In other words, I was more than 51 percent at fault when their insured made a right turn across the bike path I was traveling in, violating my right-of-way. In Colorado that means they pay nothing. Whose side are they on? The driver's, obviously.

So I guess my insurance company will pay my medical bills, buy me a new bike and...wait a minute! First of all, I wasn't driving a car, so which insurance company covers my expenses? Auto? Life? Homeowners? Believe it or not, my auto insurance will cover medical bills up to $5,000 under my "Med Pay" coverage. But when it comes to the damage to my bike, I'm up the proverbial creek. Besides, I AM NOT AT FAULT!

So how did Allied decide I was the "majority involved?" Well, they called Officer Friendly of the Castle Rock Police Department and he shared the same misinformed opinions with them that he shared with me...and even came up with a few new ones!

Remember when Officer Friendly told me that the bike lane I was traveling in ended at the intersection and began again on the other side? [At left: the intersection where the crash occured showing the bike lane in question]. Well, according to Jennifer Seldom* at Allied, he is now saying that the bike lane isn't a bike lane at all, even though it is clearly marked as a bike lane on the police report he himself filed! Apparently Officer Friendly told Jennifer that the five-foot wide "bicycle lane" shown on his report is actually just an "extension of the road."
*name changed to protect me from lawsuits

NOT TRUE, says my lawyer. That's right, I have a lawyer. After reading "Fatal Bias" I e-mailed Bob Mionski and he got right back to me and suggested that I consult with someone who actually knows the LAW regarding cars and bike "interaction" in Colorado and he referred me to Brad Tucker, a cat. 3 road racer and pro attorney in Colorado. Brad is the founder of ColoBikeLaw.com, a site dedicated to informing and advancing the rights of all cyclists, especially in Colorado.

Like a good neighbor, Brad Tucker is truly on my side. Finally, I think I'm in good hands!

Stay tuned for updates as the case unfolds. In the meantime, please remember to Share the Road!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Getting Back in Shape

I ran yesterday for the first time since my bike accident on September 22. It was painful. Not so much for my collar bone as for my legs and lungs! Based on my time -- 33 minutes to run 3.1 miles -- taking a seven-week hiatus was deterimental to my health! I'm out of shape...but I'm back in training.

For the time being I have to be content with running. I went in for my follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon last Friday and he said my collar bone appears to be healing, but X-rays at this stage aren't able to really see the "new" bone. He pushed on it and said it is moving as one, which tells him it is healing, but he doesn't want me to get on a bike for at least another six weeks after he sees me again and X-rays confirm the bone has healed.

But bike riding is really a moot point right now. I don't have a bike to ride. The dented aluminum frame of my trusty Cannondale Road Warrior has been deemed "unsafe at any speed." The Black Pearl, as some of my cyclist friends dubbed it, is out of commission. That bike has taken me many places -- seven MS150s, three Ride the Rockies, and one four-day, 400-mile trip across Missouri...more than 10,000 miles in all. It has been a great companion, never interrupting me during the hundreds of hours of think time on all those rides (except for an occasional flat tire or minor adjustment). It was my first road bike and I will always remember it (you never forget your first).

I have started looking at new bikes but am not anxious to part with the $2,000-$3,000 it will take to replace it. I was holding out some hope that the car driver's insurance company would reimburse me for the damage to my bike, but it looks like I'm going to have to fight them for it. But that's a long story for another day and I'm so frustrated with her insurance company and Officer Friendly of the Castle Rock Police Department right now that I can't talk about it without getting angry. Suffice it to say that I have retained legal counsel to represent me -- a bike riding lawyer who is passionate about cycling and protecting the rights of cyclists in Colorado.

Stay tuned for more on the unfolding saga of "Whose Fault is it Anyway?"


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Life is Good, Part II

OK, so the Chiefs lost to Denver. It's not the end of the world. Life is still goood. The brisket turned out awesome...probably my best ever. And the Donkey's fans I invited over were not unreasonably obnoxious. I think most of them realize that beating the Chiefs doesn't make Denver a good team. It just makes them a little less bad than the Chiefs, who have no quarterback, no offensive line, and an injured star running back (Larry Johnson). It's good to see Priest Holmes back in the lineup but no running back is going to fare well behind the blocking of KC's inept offensive line.

So, back to the brisket. I've been trying to perfect brisket for several years now and I think I came very close this time. Question is, can I recreate it? My marinade recipe changes every time I smoke a brisket. It starts with Dale's Steak Seasoning -- the same soy-based marinade I use on steaks. But from there I pretty much just empty all the half empty bottles of whatever sauce I have in the fridge or cupboard. This time I included half a bottle of The Boulder Hot Sauce Company's Harry's Habanero sauce and a bottle of Holen One Farms marinade from Nebraska (given to me by my friends at the Nebraska Beef Council). The final touch was about a third of a packet of Char Crust Roasted Garlic Peppercorn dry rub.

I started marinating the brisket Saturday morning and let it soak up all those good flavors for 12 hours before putting it on the smoker Saturday night around 8:00 p.m. I took it off the smoker right around kick-off (11:00 a.m.) -- 13 hours later! Then I wrapped it in foil and let it rest until half time when the devouring began. After tasting the first slice I knew I had done good. The dozen or so guests seemed to agree. It was gone within about 15 minutes.

Stinkin' Donkey's fans invaded my home, sat on my couch, watched the game on my Samsung 42" plasma TV with six-speaker surround sound home theatre and ate all my brisket!

Regardless, I was eating beef, drinking beer and watching football with friends. Life is still good.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life is Good

It's Sunday, November 11 at 12:11 a.m. and life is good.

I had my six-week follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon on Friday and it appears that my collar bone is healing nicely. I can start running again but not riding yet. But that's a moot point because I don't have a bike to ride. More on that situation later...

The Kansas Jayhawks football team beat Oklahoma State 43-28 tonight to move to 10-0 -- on the same day THE top-ranked Ohio State University football team lost. KU could be ranked #1 this week...in football. Unheard of.

Tomorrow the Kansas City Chiefs host the Denver Broncos in a matchup of mediocre teams who could make the playoffs by winning the mediocre AFC West this year. As a Chiefs fan living in Denver, this is a big game. Bragging rights hang in the balance. And I've gone so far as to host a watch party and invite several Donkey's fans (as well as some fellow Chiefs supporters and neutral parties who will pull for the Chiefs after they taste the slow-smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and Colorado Sausage Company brats I am serving up!).

Time to check on the brisket. Life is good.