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!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beef is What's for Dinner on Ride the Rockies!

I had a fun time promoting beef while on Ride the Rockies this year. I wore my Team ZIP (Zinc, Iron and Protein) jersey on four out of six days of riding and received lots of positive comments from fellow riders. I took every opportunity to talk to people about the benefits of beef protein in building and maintaining muscle mass on a long, endurance event (like a six-day, 400+ mile bike ride in the rockies!).

But the most shameless promotional opportunity came as I rode across the day three finish line in Montrose, Colorado. As I rode in I noticed a cameraman from KJCT Channel 8 (ABC) in Grand Junction. So I rode over and suggested that he should talk about the importance of nutrition on an event like RTR. To which he replied, "do you want to talk about it?" Of course, I was wearing my Beef jersey and said I'd be happy to!

So I did an interview on the spot and worked hard to get in a positive message about the power of beef protein. In the end, I was able to get one beef message into the piece. The final line of the piece is me saying, "Beef is what's for dinner on Ride the Rockies!" I'm actually quoted several times in the piece talking about the ride but they cut out some of my more substantive points about the benefits of lean beef in a healthy lifestyle (e.g., the amino acids in beef help repair muscle damaged in an intense workout).

Regardless, it's a great news feature on RTR from the perspective of a local community hosting the ride. Click on the link below to watch the segment...

Eat beef!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Ride the Rockies Pics!

Ride the Rockies 2008 is over but the memories will be long lasting. It was another epic ride featuring climbs over Lizard Head Pass (elev. 10,222 ft.), Dallas Divide (elev. 8,970 ft.), Cerro (elev. 7,950 ft.), Blue Mesa (elev. 9,288 ft.), Trout Creek Pass (elev. 9,346 ft.), and Hoosier Pass (elev. 11,542 ft.). But the king daddy of them all was Cottonwood Pass (elev. 12,126 ft.).

Day Six: Here I am in Almont, CO (elev. 8,018 ft) at the beginning of the climb up Cottonwood Pass. The pass opened on June 12, just in time for Ride the Rockies.

Day Six: At Taylor Park Reservoir (elev. 9,300 ft.) on the west side of the Continental Divide on the climb up Cottonwood Pass.

Day Six: The Beef vs. Pork showdown at Aid Station 4 (elev. 10,700 ft.) on the climb up Cottonwood Pass (beef won, of course).

Day Six: STILL on the climb up Cottonwood Pass. That's snow below...lots of it.

Day Six: A little free advertising in a seven foot tall snowbank on the side of the road up Cottonwood Pass (approx. elevation 11,500 ft.)

Day Six: At the summit of Cottonwood Pass (elev. 12,126 ft.)...finally. It took me about five hours to complete the 39-mile, 4,108 ft. climb (including stops). It was cold on the summit but I hung around long enough to revel in the moment and get my picture taken with the summit sign (waiting in a long line of cyclists).

Day Seven: At the finish line in Breckenridge after the long ride across South Park from Buena Vista and over Hoosier Pass (I didn't stop long enough to take any pictures...it was too cold and windy).

So the big ride is over and I'm not anxious to climb back in the saddle to ride my bike again anytime soon. But it won't be long (Wednesday is bike to work day in Colorado and I plan to ride!). And I'm already looking forward to the announcement of the route for Ride the Rockies 2009!

Thanks to all of my friends and family who offered words of encouragement and prayed for my safety. I felt and needed both. It's good to be home safe and sound with my family today and breathing a little easier.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Done Ridin'

I just crossed the finish line of Ride the Rockies 2008. What a great ride. Tough, beautiful, painful, awesome and over. I'm glad to be done but sad that its over. .

More later. Time to say goodbye to my RTR friends.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Over the Mountain and Through the Woods

I'm sitting in the Lariat Saloon in Buena Vista (pronounced byu-na by the locals) with Team Bar2Bar. Today's 75-mile ride over Cottonwood Pass was everything I expected it to be - long, steep and tough. I'm not sure the day off helped my legs. At times they responded to my brain's signal to speed up, other times they didn't. So I focused on enjoying the scenery as we rode up the pass on a dirt road that wound through a forest of evergreens and, eventually, snowbanks. Reaching the summit was awesome. The payoff.

A lot of people ask my why I do this. Reaching the summit of the highest point on the ride is why. That, and riding every mile. The feeling of accomplishment you get when you realize you did it. You reached the goal you trained hard for, rode hard for and endured pain for...its a really good feeling.

So tonight's the last night of Ride the Rockies 2008. One more long ride (69 miles) to get to Breckenridge. But first, we'll enjoy one more night on the town...such as it is. Buena Vista. The views from here may be good but the town itself isn't much to write home about. Its no Crested Butte or Telluride, that's for sure. Regardless, we'll find a way to have fun ;)

Party on.


Goodbye Crested Butte

Our brief respite from riding is over and today we tackle the first of two long rides to the finish line in Breckenridge. The stay here was relaxing, fun and the weather was perfect. I protein-loaded last night with a tasty filet of beef tenderloin (tenderloin is not only the tenderest cut of beef, its also one of the 29 leans cuts). Its about time to climb back on the saddle and ride back down the valley to Gunnison and over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista. This is the featured climb of the ride - over 4,000 ft. Of elevation gain. See you at the summit (elev. 12,126 ft.)!

Ride on!


Thursday, June 19, 2008


I finally found time and internet access to post some pictures. We're hanging out today in Crested Butte, CO, on our rest day. Thank goodness. I'm not sure I could have hopped back on my bike today. I would have but I would not have been happy about it :)

Day One: team DFL at the Start of the ride in Durango, CO. From left: Karen, Patty, Kent, Jane, and me (in my beef jersey).

Day Two: My camp in Cortez, with my beef jersey drying on my tent.

Day Three: Skinny catching a quick nap at Smuggler's in Telluride.

Day Four: At the Summit of Dallas Divide, near the Ralph Lauren Ranch.

Day Four: Beef tenderloin on the grill at Jeri's house in Montrose.

Day Four: The bike security area in Montrose, CO, under a full moon (the baseball field).

Day Four: My "home" in Montrose.

Day Five: Snowman Jr. (my constant travel companion entrusted to me by my daughter, H) hangs out listening to "Grass It Up" (a local bluegrass band) at the mountain resort in Crested Butte.

So our rest day is drawing to a close. time to head to the beer garden to groove to Shakedown Street (a Grateful Dead cover band), then to dinner at Timberline. Steakhouse. Of course.
Eat beef!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Running on Empty

OK, so I finished the ride. But I didn't finish strong. The last 19 miles were pure torture. The slight tailwind shifted and became a strong headwind. We ended the day the way it began, struggling against the wind on a long, steady upgrade.  Probably my least favorite thing to do...period!

But the longest day has ended and tomorrow is our day to rest up for the massive climb over Cottonwood Pass on Friday. Hallelujah!

Ride on (jusr not tomorrow).


Aid Station 5 - 73 miles and counting

Well, my prediction for todays ride has come true. The two early climbs killed my legs and I've been spinning along at high RPMs (but not much power) ever since. Now the heat, miles, and time in the saddle is taking its toll. Only 19 miles to Crested Butte, but its all uphill. Fortunately there's a slight tailwind. I love tailwind!

Ride on!


Halfway Home

We just reached the top of Blue Mesa Summit. Somewhere along the climb we passed the halfway mark for Ride the Rockies 2008. By my count, we've ridden about 220 miles and have 215 to go.

This morning's climb up Cerro and Blue Mesa was TOUGH. We've already climbed 3,367 ft. - a steady 6-8 percent grade - in 28.36 miles. To complicate matters, we rode into a strong headwind for the first 12 miles. I hate headwind.
Now we drop to Gunnison before making the final 30-mile climb to Crested Butte. The SAG wagon (aka "Van-O-Shame") will be picking up a lot of riders  today!

Ride on!


6:30 a.m. Wheels Up!

Its a beautiful morning in Montrose.  I'm refueled (beef, of course...thanks, Jeri!), rested and ready to ride...92 miles to Crested Butte. I should get there in about seven hours.

Ride on!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Moonlight in Montrose

I'm sitting on the bleachers at Montrose High School watching a full moon rise over the mountains. It's a great end to a great day.

I had a good ride today. Legs felt good. Seat felt fine (except for the 10-mile stretch of "chip and seal" road with loose gravel).

I had an even better dinner at my old friend Jeri's house in Montrose. Beef tenderloin, twice-baked potatoes, and a blue-cheese, pine nut, raspberry vinaigrette salad. All this sitting on a huge deck overlooking the valley and mountains. It was a rare evening of civilization in the midst of a week of porta potties, communal showers and aid station food (bananas, oranges, Gatorade and water).

And now I'm headed back to my tent to rest up for tomorrow's 92-mile climb to Crested Butte.

Good night.


Daren Does Dallas Divide

Just reached the summit of Dallas Divide (elev. 8,715). I hammered up the pass averaging 16.5 over the first 31.32 miles. Just enjoyed lunch (pork carnitas, of course) with an amazing view of Mt. Sneffles (14er). Lots of downhill from here (with some more climbing mixed in).

Oh yea, the cleaning crew showed up at Poacher's Pub around 9:00 am and found my debit card lying on the floor. So, I got a late start and didn't see any other riders until just before Aid Station #1. Have passed many since then so am not DFL!  Time to fly.

Ride on!

Ride on!

Stuck in Telluride

I got up at 5:00 a.m. this morning after turning in early last night. Thought I'd get an early start on the 65-mile ride to Montrose to beat the heat. Unfortunately, I'm stuck here until Poacher's Pub opens in the Mountain Village. We had dinner at Poacher's last night and I left without my VISA debit card. Bummer.

So I packed up my tent, dropped off my bag at the luggage truck and rode into town to catch the gondola up to Mountain Village. On the way up I met a guy who told me Poacher's owner's wife, Katie, works at Telluride Ski and Golf Club. So I went there and met a guy named Matt who informed me that Katie doesn't work there anymore. Bummer again. But then when I explained my predicament he laughed and said Adam (the owner) and Katie (his wife) are neighbors. So Matt is working on tracking Katie down to see if Adam can come and retrieve my card.

Fortunately, Telluride Mountain Village is a beautiful spot and the coffee shop was open, so I'm sitting outside Poacher's enjoying my latte as the morning sun rises over the mountains. Sometimes we get in such a hurry to get on to the next town that we don't take time to enjoy the view. Not today. Not until I get my card back, at least. Then it will be rock and roll time.

I may truly be DFL today!


Monday, June 16, 2008


Well, we made it to Telluride and it was a heck of a ride. Turns out it wasn't all downhill from the Summit. I was thinking of Cottonwood Pass. In fact, we climbed another 700 ft. in the last 15 miles for a total of 4,539 ft. of elevation gain.

According to the Edge, I burned 4,375 calories so I rode straight to Smugglers Brewpub and pounded a bacon cheeseburger. Now I feel like a nap but have to head back to the school and set up my tent and get cleaned up. I'm not looking forward to getting back on the bike and peddling .7 miles back to the school. That won't feel good. Wonder if they'd just let me sleep here tonight...

Ride on...


Lizard head Summit!

We just reached the Summit of Lizard Head Pass. According to my Garmin Edge 705, we climbed 3,837 ft. In 62.62 miles (almost all uphill). It was a gorgeous ride. Just had some awesome pork carnitas from my favorite vendor on the ride. I'm a happy man! Now the fun part - 15 miles downhill to Smugglers Brewpub in Telluride.

Ride on!


Beautiful Dolores

Just rolled into Aid Station #1 on day two in Dolores, Colorado. Its a beautiful setting in a canyon along the Dolores River. The weather is perfect but heating up fast. Hopefully it will stay cool as we climb Lizard Head Pass. I'll check back in at the top!

Ride on...


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ride the Rockies Day One

I made it safely and rather swiftly from Durango to Cortez. After the initial climb the route was mostly downhill. Thank goodness, because we were riding into a stiff headwind.

According to my Garmin Edge 705, I averaged 14.74 mph and burned 2,184 calories. Time to go eat!  Its hot and windy in Cortez this afternoon. Maybe I'll go find a nice, cool establishment for a burger and a beer!

Ride on!


Aid Station #1

Its a beautiful morning in Southern Colorado. I just rolled into Aid Station #1 after an 11-mile climb out of Durango on Hwy 160 towards Cortez. I feel great. Slept great, too. It was cold out but I was cozy and warm in my Marmot mummy bag. 

Time to rock on to Cortez to get a good campsite and find a nice spot to lay out and enjoy the sunshine.

Ride on!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sittin at Steamworks

The bus FINALLY made it to Durango around 7:30 tonight. I reassembled my bike in record time, threw up my tent as the sun faded over the mountains and headed to Steamworks to meet up with my friends from Team DFL and Bar2Bar. Just had a Beef Philly with pablano peppers (so much better than green bell peppers!). Yum. The menu says they can substitute chicken for no additional cost. WHAT?? They should knock $5 off the price ($9) if you order chicken. Give me a break. Chicken is fowl.

Beef. It's what's for dinner on Ride the Rockies!

Ride on...


On the Bus to Durango

We just loaded up our bikes on a semi and boarded our bus from Denver International Airport to Durango, Colorado. I'm not looking forward to the 7.5 hour bus ride. We won't get in until after dark so It'll be an adventure finding a campsite and setting up my tent tonight. Guess that's what I get for missing the deadline to sign up and getting on the last bus to Durango! Fellow Team DFL member Kent did the same thing, so we're both on the bus with people who flew in from around the country for the big ride. At least we're on our way, but we will truly be DFL in Durango tonight! And we've already made some new friends, which is my favorite part of the ride.

Ride on!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Days 5 & 6: Crested Butte to Buena Vista

Day five is our "day off" on Ride the Rockies 2008. This is the first time we've had a "day off" in the three years I've done RTR. But after the brutal 92-mile ride from Montrose to Crested Butte on day four...and before a 75-mile ride over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista, I'm sure I'll be ready for a recovery day.

The 75-mile ride from Crested Butte to Buena Vista looks to be the second toughest day on RTR08. We drop for the first 18 miles but then begin the steady ascent over Cottonwood Pass -- the highest point of the ride (12,126 ft. above sea level). Unbelievably, Cottonwood Pass just opened yesterday (June 12)!.

Check out these photos of the snow at the top of the pass taken yesterday by a local resident (at left). Lots of snow...and apparently the temp was below freezing with strong winds. Please let it warm up this week!

Cold or not, reaching the summit of Cottonwood Pass will be the highlight of the trip. I love the feeling you get when you make it to the top. The goal. The accomplishment. The reward: enjoying a good lunch of pork carnitas from my friends who run one of the food wagons that follow the ride. I won't worry about eating too much this day, because the rest of the ride careens downhill for the final nine miles into Buena Vista, the final night of the trip.

One week from tomorrow RTR08 will end on a 67-mile ride from Buena Vista to Breckenridge crossing Trout Creek Pass (elev. 9,346 ft.) and Hoosier Pass (elev. 11,542 ft.). This will be toughest final day of my four Ride the Rockies. Fortunately we end on a 10-mile "victory coast" into Breckenridge.

But I don't want to think about the ride being over before it has even begun! Tomorrow morning (Saturday) I will catch a bus from Denver International Airport to Durango, Colorado. My bike is packed and now I need to go pack the rest of my gear for the week. We each get one bag they'll carry from stop to stop. One bag for my tent, sleeping bag, clothes, shoes, etc. -- so packing for the week is a challenge!

Ride on!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Day 4: Montrose to Crested Butte

I think day four will be the toughest day on Ride the Rockies 2008. Not only is it the longest day on the ride (92 miles), but we also have a net elevation gain of 3,102 ft. (from 5806 to 8908 ft. above sea level). Add to that the fact that we start with two STEEP climbs and end with a 30+ mile steady ascent. This is on top of the 191 miles we will have peddaled in the previous 3 days. Brutal. In fact, I'm tired just thinking about it. So I'm going to bed!

The silver lining to this cloudy day is that we get a day off in Crested Butte to recover and rest up for the climb over Cottonwood Pass (elev. 12,126 ft.) on day six.

Ride on...


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Day 3: Telluride to Montrose

First, let me apologize for failing to post yesterday's preview of next Tuesday's leg of Ride the Rockies 2008. Does that make sense?


The point is that I skipped a day so I am going to take the easy route and copy and paste the information on Montrose, Colorado from the official Ride the Rockies website section on the host communities...

Montrose, CO * Elevation 5,806 ft.The scenery in Montrose is second to none. With the San Juan Mountains and the Grand Mesa within view and the Uncompahgre Plateau and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park just a short drive away, breathtaking views are abundant. Downtown Montrose houses a number of options for visitors to explore local history, including the Montrose County Historical Museum in the former Rio Grande Train Depot. Montrose is ideally located in the heart of the Uncompahgre Valley wine region. Visitors to the area can also enjoy a number of scenic golf courses, antique shops, and extraordinary fishing.

Second, I feel compelled to explain how to pronounce "Uncompahgre." On my first visit to Montrose on Ride the Rockies in 2005 (my first RTR), I struggled with this important detail. So I turned to the experts. According to Merriam Webster's online dictionary, the pronunciation is un-come-pah-gree.

Regardless, it's a beautiful area of Colorado. In 2005, we rode from Delta to Montrose the day after we climbed Grand Mesa, the largest Mesa on Earth (about 500 square miles), rising 5,000 feet above the surrounding valleys. Riding up Grand Mesa was the single toughest one-day ride I have ever completed (over 500 of the 2,000 riders that year didn't complete the ride). We started in Grand Junction at 5,000 ft. above sea level and climbed to 10,800 ft. and then dropped back down to 4,953 ft. in Delta. Finally, day three looks like fun. But after riding 126 miles in the previous two days, I'm sure it won't be easy. But we start with a mostly downhill cruise for the first 16 miles, then climb over 1,550 feet over the next 16 miles to cross the Dallas Divide (elevation 8,970) before dropping all the way to Montrose (elevation 5,800).

I look forward to retunring to Montrose. I seem to remember having fun there in 2005 :)

Ride on!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Day 2: Cortez to Telluride

Day one of Ride the Rockies 2008 takes us from Durango to Cortez, Colorado, a.k.a. Mesa Verde Country. Cortez was the starting line of RTR06, so they should be well prepared to handle 2,000 riders to the town of 13,401 (that's a 15% increase overnight!).

The 49-mile ride to Cortez should take about four hours with rest stops (and depending how late we stay at Steamworks in Durango Saturday night!).

After arriving at Montezuma-Cortez Middle School on Sunday afternoon, I plan to settle in at the New Belgium Beer Garden at the Cortez Cultural Center (open from 3:00-9:30 p.m.) and chill out to Ralph Dinosaur and the Fabulous Volcanoes (on stage from 6:30-9:30).

Seriously. Billed as a "musician, gifted entertainer and armchair philosopher," Ralph reportedly "always brings the party and good times." Now, I don't know Ralph, but gauging by the photos on his website (at left), I can see why they say, "Ralph continues to surprise even his most faithful fans...if you think you know Ralph, stand by to be amazed."

The Day two ride from Cortez to Telluride looks, well...sickening. After five relatively flat miles we hit a steep five mile climb from 6,201 ft to around 7,200 ft. We do get a brief stint of downhill to spin the lactic acid out of our legs before we embark on a 45-mile, 3,000+ ft. uphill climb from around 7,000 ft. to the top of Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 ft. Apparently the rock formation visible from the pass once resembled the head of a lizard until, "one night a loud rumble filled the area and local residents thought there had been an earthquake. However the next day it became apparent that there had been a large rock fall at the peak and it...lost it's lizard like appearance."

The last 15 miles are mostly downhill but there are several steep climbs that will be painful enough given the long climb and the toll of peddling over 120 miles in two days. I have a feeling we'll be exhausted rolling into Telluride, but the beauty of this mountain resort town should quickly refresh our spirit and the wide selection of restaurants should be sufficient to refuel our bodies.

I hope La Piazza del Villagio and Rustico have stocked up on pasta for the week. Italian restaurants are popular places along the route. After burning 3,000-4,000 calories, everybody wants to load up on carbs. But of course I'll be looking for a good steak, or maybe a veal piccata. Carbs are good short term fuel, but protein, especially quality proteins like beef (and veal) help repair damage to muscles after intense workouts and strenghten your immune system.

Actually, I'll probably skip the lines at the Italian restaurants and head to Tommy's Telluride for a pint of lager and a butter burger!

Stay tuned to tomrrow's preview of the route from Telluride to Montrose...a short little 65-mile ride over the Dallas Divide.

Ride on!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ride the Rockies 2008 Preview - Day 1: Durango to Cortez

Ride the Rockies 2008 starts one week from today (!) with a nice warmup ride (49 miles) from Durango to Cortez, Colorado, in the southern part of the state. With a population of 15,000, Durango is the largest town in southwestern Colorado. Near the Four Corners junction with New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, Durango isn't exactly on the beaten path. As the official tourism website says, "Those who live here choose to live here..." But Durango is a beautiful spot, nestled between red sandstone bluffs in the vast Animas River Valley and the dramatic peaks of the San Juan and Needle Mountains.

Durango was the first stop on Ride the Rockies 2006, which started in Cortez. So day one of RTR08 retraces the route we rode on the first day of RTR06. Most of what I remember from that day was how different the mountains look in this part of the state -- jagged, rocky peaks that shoot straight into the sky (at left: David and Kris on RTR06 with the San Juan Mountains in the distance). I'm looking forward to our return to Durango and Cortez, a small community that rolled out the red carpet for us two years ago.

After arriving in Durango I'll hook up with the rest of Team DFL, get registered and set up camp at Durango High School. Overnight accomodations in each host city include hotels (for wimps) and indoor camping and outdoor camping at a local school. I'm an outdoor camper (at left: my campsite in Durango on RTR06). I prefer the cool mountain air and atmosphere of "tent city" (the football field, baseball diamond, basically any place with grass). My fellow Team DFLers are indoor campers (along with hundreds of people packed like sardines in the gymnasium) .

After getting our situated we'll head to Steamworks Brew Pub to meet up with Team Bar2Bar, a team of strong riders who ride directly to a designated bar in each overnight town before setting up camp...or showering (At left: Team Bar2Bar and Team DFL reunite at the start of RTR07). OK, so I'll admit I often join them. Ride hard, play hard. That's my RTR motto! I'm sure we'll also see many of our old friends like Team Bob, Team Size Matters, Team Biker Chick, Mark and Jenn from Texas, and many more. After getting reacquainted over a few pints we'll head back to the high school to get some sleep.

The ride from Durango to Cortez begins with a nice climb from 6,512 ft. to 8,399 ft. above sea level in the first 15 miles. But from there we take a roller coaster ride to Cortez, which sits at 6,201 ft., with short, steep climbs around mile 20-25 and 35-38.

After arriving in Cortez I will get my tent set up and head to the New Belgium Brewery tent to begin carbo-loading for the next day. After a few Skinny Dips waiting for the rest of Team DFL to arrive and get cleaned up, we'll head to Mainstreet Restaurant & Brewery for dinner. Mainstreet will be a popular place with its eclectic menu of American, Italian, Mexican and German food. I just hope they don't run out of food. Two thousand riders descending upon a town like Cortez after a long ride is something like a plague of locusts!

After a good meal we'll head back to camp to get rest up for the 77 mile ride on day two from Cortez to Telluride, over Lizard Head Pass (elev. 10,222 ft). More on that ride tomorrow!

Ride on!


NOTE: Each day this week I will preview the ride for that day the following week, leading up to the start of RTR08 next Sunday. Stay tuned to DDublog for the scoop on the best restaurants, watering holes and other attractions along the 2008 Ride the Rockies route!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ready to Rock (Ride the Rockies)

One week from today I'll be boarding a bus from Denver to Durango, Colorado, headed to the start of Ride the Rockies 2008. After putting in 265 miles on the road in the past week, my legs are feeling good and I am ready to rock!

One week ago I averaged 16.0 mph on my ride to work and 14.5 on my ride home (net elevation gain on ride home). My previous best was 15.5 and 13.3, respectively. I felt great about the steady progress I had made since getting back on a bike on March 30 after a seven month hiatus.

[Above: the view of Mt. Evans from the E-470 trail on my ride to work]

But this week I made a quantum leap. Riding to work Tuesday I averaged 17 mph and turned around and did 14.5 on the way home. I was pumped. I had "found my legs" again and not a moment to soon, with Ride the Rockies less than two weeks away. But then I kicked it up another notch. After taking Thursday off to rest my legs, I rode to and from work yesterday (25 miles each way) averaging 17.5 on the way in and 15.6 on the way home!

I'm psyched. Last year I didn't find my legs until after Ride the Rockies. I was training hard for the Vineman Ironman 70.3 and just didn't get enough miles in the saddle (less than 500 miles). And I paid for it. I'll never forget climbing Independence Pass feeling like my legs were spaghetti. Not this year. Since March 30 I have logged 833.61 miles -- 280.37 on my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer and 553.24 on the road.

But that wasn't the real highlight of my week. Yesterday I had my three-month checkup following my collarbone surgery in March. Dr. Loucks (at left) was pleased with what he saw on the X-ray -- a large mass of new bone forming in the gap between the shattered pieces of my clavicle! If you look closely at the X-ray below, you can see an oval cloud of white bone cells. This is new bone. Lots of it. As Dr. Loucks said, my clavicle is going to be as large as my femur (the most voluminous and strongest bone in the body)!

After seeing the X-ray Dr. Loucks gave me the go ahead to do Ride the Rockies...and just about whatever else I want to do except "checking somebody into the boards" (he's Canadian and plays hockey). I told him that wouldn't be an issue!

So I'm off to meet my Team DFL friend Patty for a ride. It's a beautiful day in Denver. Life is good!

Ride on!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Accident Saga Update

For those of you following my bike accident saga, I have a quick update. I recently met with my lawyer, Brad Tucker, and discussed my options. Basically, Allied/Nationwide Insurance has failed to accept liability even after the eyewitness account and forensic engineer's accident reconstruction report clearly indicate that their insured was 100% at fault. Not only have they failed to accept liability, they have failed to even give us the courtesy of responding to numerous letters from Brad. So, we were left with no option but to file suit against the driver.

Well, today I received a copy of a letter Brad sent to a woman who has apparently "taken over the file" from the former adjuster (not sure if she still works there, quit or was fired for incompetence, but in any event she is no longer in charge of my file). It seems the new adjuster has wisely asked for time to review the file before we file suit. As Brad said in his letter...

As we discussed, I am willing to wait a week in order to allow you an opportunity to review this file. If you will accept liability for purposes of our settlement negotiations, I will not file the lawsuit, but instead, work with you in an effort to reach a fair settlement of Daren’s claims.
If not, we will proceed with the lawsuit. Or, as Brad said more eloquently...
On the other hand, if you intend to maintain the liability denial, or if I do not hear from you, I will proceed with a lawsuit against your insured.
Hopefully cooler (wiser) heads will prevail and we can avoid a lawsuit. Stay tuned...


Monday, June 2, 2008

Where in the World is Elephant Rock?

I woke this morning feeling very stiff after yesterday's 65-mile Elephant Rock Ride from Castle Rock to the northern edge of Colorado Springs and back (At left: at the rest stop in Palmer Lake). It was a great ride, despite the stiff headwind that beat us back for the first half of the ride. Otherwise the weather was perfect: sunny and cool for most of the morning and the tailwind was great when we turned back north for the home stretch back to Castle Rock.

The Elephant Rock ride begins and ends in Castle Rock, Colorado but is named for an Elephant-shaped rock supposedly somewhere near Palmer Lake, Colorado (one of the stops along the ride). I kept looking but never saw the elusive Elephant Rock. And I asked a number of other 7,000 riders and nobody seemed to know which rock was THE rock.

I searched Google and found an Elephant Rocks State Park in Missouri, a picture of Elephant-shaped rock, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, Elephant Rock Nature Park in Oklahoma and even le Rocher aux Elephants (the Elephant Rock) in the Republic of Chad in central Africa...but no Elephant Rock in Colorado (like most people, I only checked the top 10 listings in Google -- who has time to sort through the other 391,990 hits for "Elephant Rock"?).

Back to the ride...according to my Garmin Edge 705, I completed the 65.62-mile route in 4:39:45 -- an average of 14.1 miles per hour. Not particularly fast, but I was happy with the time given the 5,426 feet of elevation gain (most of which was into the wind headed south). And I was just happy to be back on my bike with thousands of other crazy cyclists.

I wasn't happy about all of the riders who insisted on riding 3, 4, and 5 abreast on Hwy 83 as we headed south out of Castle Rock. Hwy 83 is a state highway with a fair amount of traffic. State Troopers traveling the route for our safety had to constantly remind riders to move right and let traffic pass. It's no wonder some drivers hate cyclists and there have been several attempts to ban or limit large rides in Colorado.

After the ride I hosted a BBQ at my house for my friends from Team DFL (my Ride the Rockies team). After burning 3,069 calories on the ride I was ready to refuel. When I got home I pulled the brisket off the smoker, where it had been slowly cooking since midnight the night before (for my instructions for smoking a brisket, check out Life is Good, Part II).

Team DFL members Kris (our fearless, earless, rearless leader), Patty (faithful domestique) and Amy (team doctor) joined us after the ride. Kent (official Serotta test rider) called to report that he was on his couch with an icepack on his knee and was not getting up.

Unfortunately Kris and Patty weren't able to ride E-Rock. Kris has been suffering from an "equilibrium" problem and can't ride (I didn't say she was dizzy...she did!). And Patty had a run-in with the pavement on Saturday that left her sporting 11 stitches in her chin...ouch! At least there were no broken bones, so she'll still be able to do Ride the Rockies. Kris, on the other hand, thinks she's going to have to sit out this year. It just won't be the same without her!

So, we're looking to change our name from Team DFL to Team Accident Prone. First, Amy went down while training in April '07 and broke her wrist, causing her to pull out of RTR. Later, Canada Jane withdrew with a nagging injury. Then Kent did a sommersault over a car that decided to turn in front of him as he hurtled down Rabbit Ears Pass on day one of last year's ride, dislocating his shoulder and tearing up his knee. Next, I pulled a Kent and broke my collarbone on that fateful day last September. Now Kris is out of commission and Patty has some funky new hairs on her chinny chin chin.

Nitin/Jay, please be careful out there!