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!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Is Colorado Bike Friendly?

I received my Winter 2009 issue of Bicycle Colorado's "Ride Time News" this week and one article in particular caught my attention, called "Bicycle-Friendly State Rankings." My personal opinion is that, despite the hype from all the greenies in Boulder, Colorado is NOT a bike friendly state. Perhaps my opinion is biased given that I got right-hooked by a car and the Castle Rock Police tried to say it was my fault!

Sure enough, according to the article, "Colorado scored a disappointing 22nd in a new ranking by the League of American Bicyclists based on state-level bicycle-friendly policies and legislation." Based on the criteria in the study, one of the reasons Colorado ranked mediocre at best is because we need to "Improve officer training on bicyclists' rights and responsibilities." Did you see that, Officer Friendly?

And then I got this anonymous comment posted on my first blog of 2009...
I'm a cyclist from Castle Rock too. I have too have been hastled by CR's finest lately for bogus things. I have share the road plates and ride these roads everyweek. So when the officer accused my of riding on the wrong side of the road based on 2nd hand info from a motorist, I was livid. I argued with the cop for 20 minutes and came pretty close to getting thrown in jail....over nothing!!!

[At left: My Share the Road plates}

Why? Why would police officers be biased against cyclists? I just don't get it. Clearly, cyclists are as vulnerable as pedestrians, if not more so, but for some reason we don't have the same rights in the eyes of the police. Fortunately, state law recognizes that we do have the same rights.

Another reason Colorado barely placed in the top half of states is because we need to add "Questions on the driver's license exam about bicycling." Does this mean there aren't any? Scary.

On a more positive note, one week from today the Denver Post will publish the route for Ride the Rockies 2009! While everybody else is getting ready to watch the Super Bowl, cyclists all across the country will be calling towns all along the route to book hotels...but not me. I plan to camp out again this year. This will be my fifth straight RTR, my fourth with Team DFL (assuming we get in!). And I'm training for it to be my best.

I've been riding 40-50 miles per week on my CycleOps Fluid 2 trainer and getting out occasionally for some miles on the real road. I rode 22 miles yesterday on a sunny, 45 degree day in the Rock. My legs feel much stronger than they did last year at this point...when I couldn't ride becuase I was nursing a non-healing collarbone. And I didn't have a bike to ride if I could.

I remember not being so excited about the RTR route posting last year. I didn't even know then whether I'd be able to ride. So I'm a happy camper anxiously awaiting the route announcement next Sunday!

Ride on,

Daren

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ghosts of Christmases Past

I know it's already two weeks past Christmas, but I recently dug up some great pictures from Christmases past that I found worth sharing with my family and friends. The most recent was sent to me by my Uncle Meredith (dad's twin brother). It's a great shot of my brothers Jon (in a dorky turtleneck) and Evan (the baby on Jon's lap, also sporting a turtleneck) and sister Denise (with her Holly Hobby curls and jean mini skirt) with our great grandmother Cassie (my dad's mom's mother) at our house in Topeka, KS, in December 1975. That's me at left looking cool lounging in my silk pajamas a la Hugh Hefner.

Going back one year to 1974, we have a picture of me and older brother Jon (front and center) with (back row, from left) cousins Brian (Meredith's oldest) and Shana (Aunt Ann's oldest), brother Evan, sister Denise (yes, already sporting the Holly Hobby curls) and cousin Brian (Mark's younger brother). I like how I'm sporting the hip '70s open collar and Jon still has the dorky turtleneck).

Leaping back five years to 1969, we find brother Jon (at left), sister Denise (no hair to curl) and me (dorky turtleneck but cool plaid pants with rolled cuffs) hangin' with Santa at the White Lakes Mall in Topeka.

Those of you who remember White Lakes absolutely must click on this link and check out the picture of the fountain at White Lakes Mall. One day while shopping there I bent over to pluck a coin from the water and Jon pushed me in the fountain (it's much smaller than I remember!). I went in head first and came out dripping wet and chased him the length of the mall screaming bloody murder. Jon, do you remember? Of course you don't. But I will never forget!

The moral of this story of Christmases past is that I've always been the fashion trendsetter in my family, as evidenced by this pic of me in 1980 in my courderoy suit complete with vest and open collared shirt.

OK, so maybe I was falling a little behind the fashion trends in 1980, when Alex P. Keaton ushered in the conservatism on the 1980s and signaled the end of the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 70s. But it wasn't long before I ditched the open collars and traded in the bell-bottom pants for a blue suit, white shirt and striped tie and joined the Teenage Republicans to campaign for Ronald Reagan (see pic below with sister Denise and Evan, a.k.a. Alex. P. Keaton, Jr.)!

So what fashion trends will the Obama Administration bring to America? Rumor has it that the suit with no tie look is the new look in our Nation's capital. And who knows, maybe the turtleneck will make a comeback. For me, I still prefer bell bottoms and open collared shirts.

Long live the '70s!

Daren

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year, New Challenges, a New Post!

Let me start 2009 with an apology to my faithful readers. Sorry Mom...Denise...Leslie. I haven't been very diligent in my blogging of late. For some reason I just haven't been very motivated to write. Maybe it's because I haven't had any grand adventures to write about.

Sure, I've been to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Lansing, Michigan, but the weather was so cold I never left the hotel. And the holidays have been pretty quite. The furthest we traveled for Thanksgiving or Christmas was 30 miles down I-25 to Colorado Springs! I'm not complaining...really. I've enjoyed the break from hotels, rental cars and airports.

But I'm back on the road this week. Ames, Iowa, to be exact. Might as well be the North Pole. Everything is covered in a sheet of ice. Temps in the single digits. It wouldn't be so bad except that I'm a little spoiled after we had temps in the 60s this past week in Denver. A brief glimpse of spring in the middle of winter.

I was able to get my bike out on the road (twice) after many hours on the indoor trainer. I know the trainer is good cardio, but it's no substitute for getting out on the road, which is why I ride. Of course when you ride on the road you have to share the road with cars.

In fact, there are signs up and down the road reminding cyclists to "Share the Road" with our four-wheeled friends. It's a good reminder for me, especially, after I was accused by Officer Friendly of the Castle Rock Police Department of failing to yield the right of way to the car that turned right in front of me (fortunately for me, Officer Friendly misinterpreted Colorado Law...turns out that the law requires cars to make sure they can safely negotiate a right turn without hitting pedestrians or cyclists).

To remind Colorado drivers of the law, Bicycle Colorado designed a new "Share the Road" cycling jersey that offers some great tips for cars, reminding them to "Pass With Care," with three yellow bars indicating that Colorado State law requires drivers to keep at least three feet between their multi-ton hunk of metal and my 18 pound carbon bicycle. And reflective piping helps cars see me on the road (as if I could hide my 6'4" frame sitting atop my XL Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3 bike).

I got my new "Share the Road" jersey for Christmas and wore it on my two rides this past week. It's my new favorite jersey (thanks, Denise!) .

I'm getting anxious for the upcoming "season" -- Elephant Rock, Ride the Rockies, and, hopefully, another Ironman 70.3 triathlon. After taking last season off from triathlons following my encounter with a car in September 2007 and ensuing surgery on my collarbone in March 2008, I am ready to tackle a new challenge in 2009.

I'm not ready to try a full Ironman yet. Actually, Leslie has politely requested (for those of you who know Leslie, you know what that means) that I wait a few years -- until the girls are both off to college -- before I commit the time it takes to train for a full Ironman. That's 2014. For those of you who are counting, I'll be fifty years old by then!

What the heck. Doing a full Ironman the year I turn 50 sounds like a good goal. Besides, I've never even run a full marathon (which is the final leg of a full Ironman), so I suppose I'd better find out if I can do that first. First up is the Denver Marathon in October '09 with brother Evan and Williams cousins Brian and Nathan.

But first I need to pick out an Ironman 70.3 for this summer. I could do the Vineman again. It would be interesting to compete against my time in 2007 (6:27:43) and try to break six hours. But I might want to try a new venue. I may join a group of other "powered by beef" athletes at the Boise 70.3. Only problem is that it will be held June 13 -- the same day they kick of Ride the Rockies. I really want to do RTR again this year, to make it five in a row. And then there's the fact that I haven't swam seriously since the Vineman!

Forget New Year's resolutions...I prefer New Year's challenges!

Ride one...

Daren