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!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wild Ride on the Cherry Creek Trail

After a great trip to Mad City it was good to be back in Denver today and to get back on my bike for the 50-mile round trip commute to my office. As strange as it may sound, I really look forward to riding to work...it's the trip home I dread (in addition to being tired at the end of the day, I have a net altitude gain of 1,476 ft. on the ride home)!

Mornings on the Front Range are almost always sunny and cool. And as the sun rises in the east and hits the mountains to the west, the views are breathtaking. Riding to work this morning was especially nice because I had a gentle tailwind blowing from the south. And my legs felt good after taking a few days off from riding while on the road (and despite the pain I felt yesterday after my 6.2 mile run in Madison).

According to my new Garmin Edge 705, I averaged 16 mph (my best to date on the ride to work) and burned 1166 calories. Not a bad way to start the day!

But the highlight of my ride to work was encountering several deer out for a morning stroll along Cherry Creek. So I stopped and asked an innocent bystander to capture the moment (I carry a camera on rides ever since I missed the opportunity to photograph an entire herd of elk running along the road beside me!). That's me in my Beef jersey, the deer are in the distance over my left shoulder (click on pic to view fullsize).

After a long day at the office, including a 3 hour spokesperson training this afternoon for the Young Cattlemen's Conference, I climbed back into the saddle for my ride home. The typical Colorado afternoon clouds had rolled in and the wind had picked up, so I was concerned I'd have an unpleasant commute home. But as I set out I could tell my legs still felt strong (a sign they are getting back into cycling shape after my seven month hiatus) and the wind was blowing from the northeast, giving me a crosswind for the first six miles but a good tailwind when I turned south.

Once again the Cherry Creek Trail offered up an unusual site. This time I nearly ran over a young Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Circling back to confirm, I captured this picture as it scurried towards cover. If you look closely (click on the pic to view fullsize), you can see the beginnings of a rattle forming at the end of the tail.

Much to my surprise I finished my ride home in 1:42:03, by far my fastest ride home from work, averaging 14.52 miles per hour (previous best was 13.56). And I burned another 1277 calories. That's 2443 for the day (not a bad day's work!).

As I rolled into Castle Rock and looked south at the view of The Rock (on the left) and Pikes Peak (in the distance to the right), I was struck by how blessed I am to live in the beautiful part of the country and to once again be able to ride my bike.

Since May 1, I have logged over 300 miles on my indoor trainer and 300 on the open road. After a 35-mile ride tomorrow and Elephant Rock (65) on Sunday, I'll be over 700 total.

My plan next week is to drive to work Monday a.m and home Friday night. If successful, I'll log 200 miles riding the rest of the "legs." That will leave 100 miles to reach my goal of 1,000 before Ride the Rockies. I should be able to knock that out with a 50-mile ride that weekend and one day's commute. And as a result, I should be better prepared for RTR than in any of the previous three years.

I am Ready To Rock!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mad City

Greetings from Madison, Wisconsin! This is my second trip to "Mad City" (last time I was here was during the World Dairy Expo in October 2005). Based on my two experiences, I can see why it is consistently voted one of the ten most livable cities in the U.S. I've never visited Madison in winter, but in the spring, summer and fall, it's beautiful.

I'm definitely not sure about the whole raising chickens in the backyard deal. But I can testify that the steakhouses in Mad City stack up against the best in Denver, KC and even NYC. I ate dinner tonight at johnny Delmonico's and had the 20 oz. Certified Angus Beef bone-in ribeye (at left). It was as tender, juicy and tasty as any ribeye I've ever had (and I've eaten a lot of bone-in ribeyes!).

I worked up a big appetite before dinner with my own version of the Mad City 10K. Wearing my Garmin Forerunner 305 I set out from the Best Western Inn on the Park Capitol Square and headed to the trail along Lake Menona. From there I ran along the lake and wound my way through downtown Madison, up and down the State Street Mall and circled the State Capitol (twice) before ending up back at the hotel (exactly 6.2 miles later...thanks to my Forerunner!).

Sitting in my hotel room tonight, looking out my window at the State Capitol (at left: the view from my hotel room window), my legs and feet are feeling the effects of running for the first time since I was in Sacramento a little over a month ago.

Running that far in my first run in over a month was probably not a good idea. I have a blister on my right foot and I'm sure I will be barely able to walk tomorrow. Running is so different than cycling. So much more punishment on the body and running uses different muscles in the legs.

Last year at this time I was training for the Vineman Half Ironman, so was running, cycling AND swimming. But this year I am focused on getting ready for Ride the Rockies and have only run when I'm on the road without my bike. But as soon as RTR is over I have to start pounding the pavement to get ready for the Boilermaker 15K (in Utica, NY on July 13). I'll be running as part of Team ZIP -- over 50 beef-eating athletes demonstrating the power of beef protein by competing in the country's biggest 15K race.

It's going to be awesome...but I will have some work to do between June 21 (when RTR ends) and July 13 to reach my goal to finish in under 54 minutes (less than 9 mins per mile). The good news is that I'll get to eat lots of beef to strengthen and sustain my body during the training. In fact, I plan to throw a brisket on the smoker this weekend to feed a bunch of hungry cyclists after the Elephant Rock Ride on Sunday, June 1. We're hosting a BBQ at our house for my friends from Team DFL and RTR following the ride.

Of course I will use the opportunity to tout the benefits of enjoying great tasting beef after a big ride -- sports medicine experts say that consuming protein within two hours of a workout is as important as consuming carbs to replace glycogen. Protein provides the amino acids necessary to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense, prolonged exercise. The amino acids in protein can also stimulate the immune system, making you more resistant to colds and other infections.

But not all proteins are created equal. The best source is complete proteins (those containing 8 essential amino acids) coming mostly from animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs. And of all the meat protein choices, beef gives you the most bang for the buck. Not only does it taste good, beef is also a great way to fuel your body. In the American diet, beef is the number one contributor of protein, zinc and vitamin B12, number two of vitamin B6, and number three of iron and niacin. By supplying a nutrient bundle in every bite, eating beef is a great way to make your calories count. A 3 oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10% of the calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. At the same time, it supplies more than 10% of the Daily Value for these nutrients.*

To me, there's nothing better than a good steak after a nice long ride...and a cold malt beverage (liquid carbs) to wash it down!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Road Rant, Part II.

Don't worry, I'm not going to get back on my soapbox about cars, cows, greenhouse gasses and the hypocrisy of Coloradoans who think they are living the green life just because they live in Colorado...well, maybe just a little bit :)

Thanks to a tip from Terrance (fellow cyclist and avid DDublog reader), I have a new route to and from my home in Castle Rock and my office in Centennial that helps me avoid more of our four-wheeled friends by utilizing the Cherry Creek Trail system (at left: view of the front range from the trail). Turns out that there was a more bike-friendly way to commute from south Denver. If only it went to Castle Rock...

The Cherry Creek Trail definitely helps me avoid some of the "exhaust from Hummers, Explorers, diesel-burning duelies and garbage trucks hauling our daily discard to the landfill" (see Colorado...The Green State?) but there are trade-offs. For one, I must have swallowed a dozen gnats. I think of Colorado as a bug-free zone, but found out today that they just all live in that low-lying area along Cherry Creek. I kept telling myself, "It's just protein" but I definitely prefer to get my muscle-building protein from a great-tasting steak!

The other trade-off is the trail takes me a couple of miles further east before hitting the E-470 trail that takes me back west towards my office. But I'll leave 10 minutes earlier to avoid the aggravation of the drivers who refuse to move a little closer to the center line to give me a wider berth.

Truth be told, though, they are the exception to the rule. Most drivers are very courteous and go well out of their way to make room for cyclists. I even had one guy pull up beside me at a stop light say, "That's what I should be doing...have a great ride" (probably a fellow cyclist).

And as I was reminded by a colleague this week, just like those few bad drivers, there are plenty of rude cyclists who give everyone else a bad name. Apparently one of them yelled "WAKE UP" at him as he stood at the corner, on a sidewalk, reading an e-mail on his Crackberry while he waited for the light to change.

One of my pet peeves as a cyclist is riders who don't ride single file when there is traffic in the area. I'm sure I'll have to remind several fellow cyclists to follow this basic rule of the road on Ride the Rockies this year. It's just common courtesy. I sure wouldn't want to be the poor sap in a car trying to drive up Cottonwood Pass (at left) behind 2,000 cyclists grinding along at 10 mph!

We're supposed to traverse Cottonwood Pass on Day 6 of RTR08, cresting at 12,126 ft. above sea level (see elevation profile below). But as of today there is some question as to whether they will have all the snow cleared in time! Apparently the pass is currently buried under 18 feet of snow after receiving an additional six inches on May 13.

So if you encounter a rude cyclist, please don't assume all cyclists are the same and I'll try not to stereotype pick-up truck drivers (in my experience, the biggest cyclist haters on the road). And please, if you approach a rider frantically pedaling their way to work, or just out for a joyride, give us brake (literally, slow down) and move left to pass.

Share the road goes both ways.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Colorado...the Green State? (aka Road Rant, Part I)

When you picture Colorado you might think of skiing, hiking, trout fishing, river rafting, bike riding and tree hugging. And you'd be right in thinking all of these activities do take place in Colorado. But I can tell you that there are also plenty of SUVs driving those skiers to the slopes in Summit County, hiking trails in Estes, trout fishing streams in Deckers, white water rafting outfitters on the Colorado River and even to the bike riding, tree-hugging mecca of Boulder.

When I moved to Denver in 2006 I heard a lot of talk about how it was such a "bike friendly" city. I pictured bike lanes on every road, bike shops on every corner and throngs of cyclists riding to/from work. Wrong.

I rode 24 miles from Castle Rock to my office in Centennial this morning. Not one bike lane. Didn't pass a single bike shop. Saw three other cyclists during the entire 90 minute commute.

What I did see was a bunch of SUV-driving hypocrites heading to work drinking $4 lattes in paper cups wrapped in a recycled-paper coozie. And I'm sure many of them buy into the animal rights activist's argument that they can reduce their carbon footprint by foregoing a steak and eating tofu for dinner. Bull.

As as you can see from this map (tracked on my new Garmin Edge 705), I have to go miles out of my way to find roads suitable for riding...

View Larger Map

So, do cows contribute more to global warming than cars
? I'm no scientist but I inhaled in a lot of fumes on my way to work this morning and although I did ride past a lot of cows (and heifers and steers and bulls), the only thing I gagged on was the exhaust from Hummers, Explorers, diesel-burning duelies and garbage trucks hauling our daily discard to the landfill.

The shell game being played by the anti-meatheads in Boulder and other bastians of veganism in this country is to point the finger at burping cattle as the cause of global warming while relieving our guilt by telling us that driving our SUVs to work is OK. Bull.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the number one source of methane gas in the United States is solid waste landfills. Remember those garbage trucks?

The issue isn't cows or cars. It's us. Every day, every hour, every minute we eat, breathe, urinate and excricate (is that a word?), we leave a carbon footprint on the Earth. When the alarm clock goes off, we turn on our lights, television, computer, microwave, open the fridge, run the dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer...we leave a bigger "hoofprint" than any cow ever aspired to leave.

Al Gore should be pissed. All of his work to raise our consciousness to global warming is being undermined by the anti-animal consumption community that even chastises him for contributing to global warming by eating meat. By shifting the blame from US to THEM (poor cows), they do a disservice to Al(l).*

OK, I know I'm standing on my soapbox, which makes me an easy target. But until I see more bikes than cars on the road I'm going to keep eating beef to get the zinc, iron and protein I need to fuel my body for the 24-mile ride to work. Beef, by the way, is a renewable fuel for my body. No OPEC controlling the supply. Don't worry. Eat beef...we'll make more!


*I should point out here that I am a registered Republican and defending Al Gore is not in my nature.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A New Toy!

My 44th birthday came two weeks early today when I received my new Garmin Edge 705 in the mail. Everybody knows guys like their toys...and I've gotten some great toys for my birthday through the years -- Tinkertoys, slot cars, Atari -- but I think this one may be my favorite yet. It's the ultimate bike computer: GPS-enabled with street maps, turn-by-turn directions, wireless cadence and heart rate monitor and a color display! I'm going to be the envy of many a rider on Ride the Rockies this June.

I also got a new Garmin Louis Garneau cycling jersey to wear as I train for RTR. So, you may be wondering why I'm such a big Garmin fan. Well, it doesn't hurt that they are based in my former hometown of Olathe, Kansas. Or that my buddy Ted works there. But the main reason I'm such a big fan is because I love the Edge, Forerunner and Nuvi!

My Edge 305 has ridden thousands of miles with me on my bike, including two Ride the Rockies, Ride MO for the Cure (a four-day, 400 mile ride across Missouri with my buddy Chris to raise money for breast cancer research) and many training rides in Kansas and Colorado.

My Forerunner 305 completed the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, Chicago Half Marathon and Vineman Ironman 70.3 triathlon (including the swim!) with me last summer (as well as all the training runs around The Rock).

My Nuvi 360 leads me to meetings, restaurants and nightclubs all across the country during my travels to promote beef as part of a healthy lifestyle.

But this is about my new Edge 705. I can't wait to get out on the open road and try out the mapping features. Unfortuntely, it snowed here yesterday (on May Day!) so I"ve only been able to use it while riding in place on my CycleOps Fluid2 Trainer. Pretty anti-climactic. But at least it has a wireless heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor so I can keep my indoor rides interesting and productive.

More on that later...