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!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ride the Rockies - See you in June!

I must have checked my personal e-mail half a dozen times yesterday hoping to find an e-mail from Ride the Rockies. I checked it first thing when I woke up in my hotel room in Lincoln, before and after I worked out, before I left for the airport, after I landed back in Denver, and again as soon as I got home, which is when I finally saw the e-mail from "rtr" with the subject line "Ride the Rockies - See you in June."

After waiting for Comcast's new "SmartZone Communications" e-mail application to open (it is soooo sloooow), the first thing I saw was, "Congratulations! Your application for the 2009 Denver Post Ride The Rockies has been selected." That's all I needed to see. We're in!

I'm excited about the group riding as Team DFL this year -- Kris (our fearless/earless leader), Patty, Karen, Kent, Nitin, Chris, me and Hank, a friend we made on previous year's rides. I found out after my last post that Big Dave is out. Bummer.

This will be my fifth Ride the Rockies and I'm hoping to make it my best. I've already put in over 300 miles on my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer and several outdoor rides. At this time last year I had zero miles in the saddle. I didn't even have a bike to ride! My bent and broken Cannondale sat in the garage collecting dust and I did my best to stay in shape waiting for surgery to receive my bionic collarbone. I finally got on my bike on the trainer on March 30 last year. By that time this year I hope to have well over 500 miles under my belt!

It's a cold but sunny blue sky day here in Castle Rock so I'm headed on for a ride in a few minutes. As I climb over Wolfensberger Road I'll be thinking about climbing Independence Pass this June. As I drop into the valley towards Hwy 105, I'll be envisioning screaming down the pass into Aspen for the final night of the ride. It's gonna be sweet!

Ride on!


Friday, February 27, 2009


Yesterday I received an anonymous comment on my blog entry Ride the Rockies Registration Closes Today. "Self-aggrandizement is a much higher priority," wrote the reader in response to a good natured comment my mom had posted accusing me of working on my blog rather than returning her call that morning.

At first I was embarrassed so I deleted the anonymous comment (and my mom's comment that prompted it) and changed the settings on my blog so that I can moderate comments before they are posted.

Then I looked up self-aggrandizement. I mistakenly thought self-aggrandizement essentially meant "shameless self promotion" (which in many cases is an accurate description of BEEFMAN Bloggeth!). But then I looked it up. According to YourDictionary.com, self-aggrandizment is "the act of making oneself more powerful, wealthy, etc., esp. in a ruthless way."

BEEFMAN has neither made me more powerful or wealthy (I wish) and I don't think I've ever promoted myself in a way that is ruthless.

Today I received a comment from a reader in Washington State on my post from a few weeks ago, Is Colorado Bike Friendly? "Hi Daren, enjoyed your blog on RTR 2008. We made the lottery for 2009, so now I'm a little intimidated/scared. Thanks for all the tips."

Thanks, Barb (whom I have never met), I'm glad you appreciated the tips. Don't be scared. Just keep training. You'll be fine...and you will have the ride of your life! BTW, we also made it into the lottery. Maybe we'll meet each other on the ride. I'll be the guy wearing the "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" jersey shamelessly promoting beef as an important part of a healthy diet!

I guess when you put yourself out there on the internet you open yourself up to random insults and criticism. I have received both. Some coward even went to the extent of e-mailing my employer to complain about my shameless self-promotion without contacting me. Really? Seriously.

I started BEEFMAN as a way to keep my friends and family (and whoever else finds it interesting) up to date on my exploits without clogging their inbox with e-mails and multi-megabyte pictures. I'm not sure if the anonymous reader is a family member or friend just messing with me. If you are, please identify yourself in future comments so I can enjoy the joke.

But if "anonymous" is someone truly offended by my shameless self-promotion, then just don't bother reading. And don't bother commenting. I won't post comments from anonymous cowards.


P.S. While looking up self-aggrandizement I ran across a blog called Self-Aggrandizement, the story of Joshua Bryce Newman, "a 29-year old film mogul, entrepreneurial wunderkind, and general smart-ass, living in New York City." The first thing you see when you open Joshua's blog is the tagline: "Now with 137% more unabashed egotism!" I love it...and have enjoyed reading the random thoughts of Joshua Bryce Newman. Thanks, Anonymous, for leading me to this site. Check it out. You'll hate it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ride the Rockies Registration Closes Today!

Registration for Ride the Rockies 2009 officially closes today. Our team envelope is being hand-delivered by Kris (with a "K") as I write and includes registrations from me, Patty, Karen, Kent, Big Dave, Little Nitin, and a first-time rider, Chris (with a "Ch"). RTR typically receives more than 3,000 entries but only 2,000 riders will be picked in the lottery. We're hoping Kris' karma once again pays off and our envelope gets drawn!

I got to reminiscing about past Ride the Rockies this week and loaded a bunch of photos into a slide show (above). This got me thinking about how I got hooked up with this motley crew...

Big Dave (at left) and I met Kris and Patty when we showed up in Grand Junction for the start of Ride the Rockies 2005. Doing the Ride was Dave's idea. We were neighbors in KC and had talked about doing a week-long ride like RAGBRAI or Bike Across Kansas. But then Dave moved to Denver and I figured it would never happen until one day he calls and says he's thinking about doing Ride the Rockies. I immediately said, "I'm in" but secretely hoped we wouldn't get picked. After all, I thought riding up "puke hill" outside of KC was tough!

Then one day I got an letter in the mail and when I opened it the first word I saw was "Congratulations!" We were in. I started training as best I could on the hills around KC. Then, two weeks before the ride, Dave calls to tell me he was not going to be able to ride. He had been riding one Sunday morning and his heart rate got stuck bouncing around 180-200 beats per minute. After a visit to the ER, the doctors were able to bring his heart rate back down but encouraged him not to test it on Ride the Rockies! He was, however, gracious enough to pick me up at the airport and drive me to Grand Junction, which brings us back to Kris and Patty.

Dave hung out for the opening ceremonies in Grand Junction and that night we ran into Kris and Patty (at left with me in Leadville with Mt. Massive in the background) in a bar covered in temporary tattoos and stickers that read "Team DFL." So I bit on the hook and said, "What does DFL* stand for?" And the rest is history. We became fast friends and I have ridden with Team DFL every year since.

The following year Dave moved to Texas but came back to ride with Team DFL and brought his friend Nitin (at left) from Kansas City. Nitin is a big talker in a small package. For example, in a recent e-mail he said, "I have decided to commit to this year's RTR, work schedule be damned. Let me know who else is up for it. I am nursing an IT band injury and a hamstring injury, so some of you might be able to keep up with me (yes, that is an old fashioned diss and a challenge). The Ghetto part of your brain should be screaming - 'Oh No, He Didnnn't.'" Oh yes he did!

Somewhere along the way Kris and Patty picked up Karen and Kent (whose 2007 ride ended on day one when he got right-hooked by a car while riding down Rabbit Ears Pass into Steamboat Springs on a loaner Serotta). The next year Kent won the grand prize Serotta given away at the end of the ride. Coincidence or karma?
By the way, Patty won a bike in 2007, so I guess it's either Kris or Dave or my turn this year (unless the newbie, Chris, wins!).

Chris and I are old friends from Kansas City who met while riding in the Kansas City MS150 back in 2001 (or was it 2002, Chris?) and later rode from Kansas City to St. Louis in four days (400 miles). We called it "Ride MO for the Cure" and raised $16,820 between the two of us for breast cancer research (which we donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation). My mom and Chris' step-mom and mother-in-law are survivors of breast cancer and we both have young daughters, so it was a personal mission to do our part to put an end to this insidious disease. We had big dreams of turning it into an annual event. But, oddly, we couldn't really get the KC Komen chapter interested in what we were doing (until we presented them with a check for $16,820!). So Chris and I share the honor of being the only two riders on the first (and last) annual Ride Mo.

So that's the team for this year, that is if we get picked. We will receive notification one week from today. Stay tuned...

Ride on!


*I can tell you that DFL does not refer to the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party nor is it text-speak for "dying from laughing." Hint: DFL refers to the last place finisher in a sporting event.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Training for Ride the Rockies 2009, Part II

In my last post I offered my training tips for Ride the Rockies...also known as "The Swollen Uvula Incident and other lessons I've learned over the past four years on Ride the Rockies." In doing so, I neglected to discuss one key element of surviving Ride the Rockies...nutrition. Providing proper fuel for your body is a critical component of training for and finishing Ride the Rockies.

This is one of the hardest lessons I've learned in my adult life...the key to leading a healthy, active lifestyle is eating right and getting some exercise! For those of you who didn't know me when, I once weighed a whopping 270 lbs! I was clinically obese.

[Above: That's me on the left with Santa Claus at the Agri/Washington office Christmas party, Dec. 1995; on the right at the KC MS150, Sept. 2001).

I was 30 years old, my second daughter was on the way and I was living a sedentary lifestyle. My idea of eating right was having a grilled spicy chicken sandwich with extra mayo, two slices of cheese and a large soda for lunch every day at the Korean deli next to my office on K Street.

At home we grilled a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts thinking we were eating healthy, but we coated it in KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with KC Masterpiece (#2 ingredient is high fructose corn syrup). My point is that in order to make chicken palatable you have to add either mayo, cheese, barbecue sauce, or some other form of fat or carbohydrate to make it taste good.

So I changed my diet. Actually, I went on a diet with some encouragement from my younger brother who had begun selling a popular weight loss program with herbal supplements and shakes.* But I knew that, in the long run, if I was going to keep the weight off I needed to start getting some exercise, so I started riding my bike. I loved riding and went from 10 to 20 to 30 miles on Saturday mornings. Then a friend at Church of the Resurrection invited me to join a group of cyclists from the church training to ride in the Kansas City MS150 -- a two-day, 150-mile ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis research.

That Fall I finshed my first MS150. Eight years and seven MS150s, 10 sprint triathlons, one Ironman 70.3 and four Ride the Rockies later, I maintain that healthy weight and fuel my body with lean beef. Of course I also get plenty of carbs -- some good (whole grains and fruits) and some bad (sugars, liquids). But it's lean beef that fuels my body for long distance events and provides the provides the protein I need to build (or, at my age, maintain!) muscle mass.

[Above and Below: BEEF. It's What's For Dinner...on Ride the Rockies 2008)

Every athlete knows you need carbs for short term fuel and protein to repair and build muscle mass after intense workouts. What many don't know is that not all proteins are the same. Ounce for ounce, beef provides more essential nutrients and vitamins than other popular sources of protein. Beef gives my zinc for a healthy immune system, iron to help carry oxygen to my muscles (very important at high altitude) and vitamins B12 and B6 for energy.

The bottomline is that I don't eat eat much fowl these days. Why bother, when lean beef provides so many more nutrients and vitamins your body needs to stay active and healthy? And by the time you add something to chicken to make it taste good you're getting more fat than if you just grilled up a great lean Kansas City Strip or one of the other 29 lean cuts of beef.

Beef. It's What's For Dinner...on Ride the Rockies 2009!

Ride on!


*My brother switched to Melaleuca a few years ago and I am still one of his best customers! I love their sports nutrition products, as well as their home and body products.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Training for Ride the Rockies 2009

I've received several questions about training for Ride the Rockies 2009 so thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learned the hard way over the past four years. I am, by no means, a professional cyclist or personal trainer, but I hope others will benefit from my past mistakes!

First, the official Ride the Rockies website includes some great tips on training, including a sample training schedule and tips for effective altitude training. If I had followed this advice I probably would not have learned the following lessons on my own:

Miles in the Saddle

I rode my first two Ride the Rockies (2005 and 2006) while living in Olathe, KS, at an altitude of about 1,000 ft. above sea level. People always asked how I trained to ride in the mountains while riding in Kansas. The truth is that Eastern Kansas has plenty of steep hills to ride on, they're just a lot shorter than the ones here in Colorado! So I focused on putting in lots of miles in the saddle. I think I put in about 1,000 miles (~150/week) before my first RTR and did fine (with the exception of the "Swollen Uvula Incident"). I finished the ride...but not without feeling some pain!

[At left: At the finish line of Ride the Rockies 2004, Breckenridge, CO]

The following year my goal was to not just finish, but to enjoy the ride. I rode to/from work (about 20 miles each way) when the weather allowed and increased my mileage to over 200 miles per week prior to the ride and I felt much better.

After moving to Colorado in July of 2006 I figured training at altitude (I now live at 6,400 ft. above sea level and routinely ride above 7,000). In 2007 I decided to train for the Vineman Half Ironman in July, 2007, and my miles in the saddle dropped as I made time to swim and run that Winter and Spring. As a result I never felt like I "got my legs" until after RTR. I struggled on RTR but felt great a month later on the bike portion of Vineman.

Last year, following my bike accident I was unable to even get on a bike until March 30 so I decided to focus on cycling and bought a CycleOps Fluid2 bike trainer so I could start putting in miles while recovering from surgery and waiting for warmer weather. When I was able to get out on the road I plotted a route to/from work and was riding >200 miles/week in May and early June. Once again, the miles in the saddle prior to the ride made it much more enjoyable.

So far in 2009 I'm averaging about 30 miles per week on my indoor trainer and have been able to get outside about once a week to put in 20-30 miles on the road. My goal is to have 500 miles in the saddle by the end of March and then kick it up a notch in April and start riding to/from work in May when the weather warms up.

Lesson Learned: miles in the saddle is a bigger factor than training at altitude.

Altitude and Hydration

When I first started training for my first RTR, my biggest concern, and the one that proved to be valid, was altitude and hydration. I did a lot of reading on how to prepare for the altitude and one thing I learned was that proper hydration is the key. So prior to my first Ride the Rockies I drank lots of water and focused on raising my total body water percentage. Of course, I also focused on staying hydrated during the first several days of the ride.

That worked well until we rolled into Salida on the fifth day of the ride. Feeling good and with just two days left I decided to celebrate with my fellow riders and we shut down the pub at the Hotel Victoria ("The Vic" as it is known locally). After walking back to the school and finding my tent in the middle of several hundred tents on the football field, I realized I had forgotten to fill my water bottles...but was too lazy to get back out of my tent and go fill them. That was a huge mistake.

I woke the next morning to the worst cotton mouth I had ever experienced. I felt like my throat was swollen half shut and it felt like I was choking on my own uvula. The 60-mile, all uphill ride from Salida to Leadville was miserable. As I mentioned in my last post (below), the diagnosis was altitude sickness. I took it easy that night, drank lots of water and finished the ride over Fremont Pass to Breckenridge the next morning.

I still enjoy going out with my friends from Team DFL and Bar2Bar on Ride the Rockies, but always remember to drink lots of water (one for every beer) and fill up my water bottles before I crawl into my tent! As a result, I've enjoyed plenty of liquid carbs and ridden over 12,000 ft. passes without ever feeling the effects of altitude sickness [at left: last summer at the summit of Cottonwood Pass, 12,126 ft.]

Lesson Learned: When riding at altitudes of 9,000-12,000 ft. above sea level, staying hydrated is the key to avoiding altitude sickness.

Ride Defensively
I learned my third and final lesson in September 2007, but should have learned it from my friend Kent on Ride the Rockies several months before. Kent was descending Rabbit Ears Pass on the first day of Ride the Rockies 2007. Kent got "right-hooked" by a car (see Collision Type #6 of "Ten Ways Not to Get Hit" at Bicyclesafe.com) that made a right turn in front of him, sending him over the car and onto the pavement, dislocating his right shoulder and tearing up his knee. It also did some damage to the Serotta demo bike he was riding that day!

That was the end of RTR07 for Kent, but he returned last year to ride and won the Serotta bike giveaway at the end of the ride! How's that for poetic justice??

I learned my lesson on September 22, 2007, when I also got right-hooked by a car that had just passed me then turned right in front of me.

[At left: my "enhanced" diagram of the accident scene -- I added the stick figure of me lying in the road].

I was fortunate enough to survive my lesson in defensive riding with a broken collarbone and return for Ride the Rockies 2008 (although I didn't win a bike). I definitely took it easier coming down the big passes and paid close attention to every car on the road.

Riding defensively means assuming every car that passes you is going to turn in front of you, that every car parked along the street is going to back out into you and that every car approaching an intersection is going to run a red light.

Lesson Learned: In car vs. bike collisions, the car always wins.

Finally, Steve B. asked in a comment on my blog for some suggestions for a "safe place to work on climbing" in the Denver area. I couldn't really come up with any. I love riding up Lookout Mountain, Deer Creek Canyon and from Morrison to Evergreen, but all three roads have little or no shoulder and lots of vehicle traffic.

If you have any suggestions, please post them in the comments section (click on link below where it says "comments").

Ride on!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ride the Rockies 2009 Route Posted!

The Ride the Rockies 2009 route has been unveiled! It's a 380-mile loop from Glenwood Springs to Hotchkiss to Gunnison to Salida to Leadville to Aspen and back to Glenwood. Six days (June 14-19). Short...but SWEET!

Registration for RTR 2009 opened today and the route was announced in this morning's Denver Post. According to the article, the 2009 route loops over McClure Pass (elev. 8755) to Hotchkiss, along the north rim of the Black Canyon to Gunnison, over Monarch Pass (elev. 11,312) to Salida, up the Arkansas River valley to Leadville, over Independence Pass (elev. 12,095) to Aspen, and back to Glenwood Springs. This is the first time RTR has gone over McClure Pass. I've ridden Monarch (RTR 2005) and Independence (RTR 2007) but not McClure.

Sounds like a great ride. I love loop routes (start and end in same town) because it means NO BUSES! It's just a lot easier when you can drive yourself and your bike to the start and have your car waiting when you return, rather than having to either bus to the start or bus home after the ride.

RTR 2007 was a loop starting and ending in Frisco. This year we'll start and end in Glenwood Springs, which is an awesome location at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River with hot springs, river rafting and a tram ride with awesome views that goes up to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

I'm also looking forward to returning to Salida, but not the ride from Salida to Leaville. It's 60+ miles (all uphill) along the Sawatch Range, which boasts 15 of Colorado's 14ers. The views are awesome but the problem is that Salida is just too much fun. Four years ago on my first ride we closed down The Vic and I struggled the next day with dehydration. I ended up in the ER at the hospital (conveniently located across the street from Leadville High School, the overnight campground) with a swollen uvula (yes, men do have uvulas). I thought I had strep throat, but the official diagnosis was hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen saturation. My pulse ox reading was 87% when I got to the hospital (normal is around 95%). But the doctor hooked me up to oxygen and "topped off my tank" so I could finish the ride into Breckenridge the next day.

More on Ride the Rockies 2009 later. It's a beautiful sunny day in Denver and thinking about Ride the Rockies has me itching to get out on the open road.

Ride on!