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, April 28, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview Day Two: Cortez to Durango

After a fun evening in Cortez, Day Two looks like a good day for a late start. It's the second shortest day of the tour. Maybe Woody and I will stop for breakfast on the way out of town. At only 64 miles and 3,442 ft. of elevation gain, the ride east to Durango looks relatively tame.

I'll probably live to regret those words. It'll be hot or windy (or both). It's never as "easy" as it looks on paper. But the highest point on day two is Hesperus Hill at 8,091 ft. And I don't remember it being much of a climb when we rode this same route in the opposite direction on day one of RTR 2008.

Hitting the road with Woody and we stopped for breakfast in Leadville on RTR 2013.

Ride the Rockies attracts all kinds of riders. There are hard core early risers who break camp before dawn and head out at first light dressed in winter gear. They are the "Early Truck" people . The masses head out between 7-8 a.m. They are the Midde Truckers. Woody and I (and most of Team Bar2Bar) wake up about the time everybody else is taking off. We are the Late Truckers (RTR hauls one bag per person from stop to stop in three 18-wheelers).

Morning at our campsite in Gunnison on the first day of RTR 2012.
 We like to ride toward the back of the pack. When we roll into the next stop on the tour we ride straight to a predetermined watering hole for some liquid carbo-loading. Everybody else heads straight to the cmpsite to set up their tent in the heat of the day then wait in line at the shower trucks (impressive 18-wheel mobile shower units).

About the time the masses head out for dinner (and more lines) we head to the campground and find the perfect spot nobody else took (probably because it wasn't in the shade at 2:00!). We walk right into the showers, change clothes and head back out for the evening (about the time the early risers are headed to bed).

I'm fairly certain the official Team Bar2Bar destination in Durango will be Steamworks Brewing Co. This was the gathering point on the first day of RTR 2008. Apparently I had a great beef philly with pablano peppers that night after the long bus ride from Denver. I don't see it on the 2013 menu (.pdf) but the French Dip with House Smoked All Natural Brisket, Swiss Cheese, House Cured Bacon, on a Ciabatta Hoagie sounds amazing!

After Steamworks we'll probably hit a few more local spots before heading back to camp to get some sleep before the 86-mile ride from Durango to Pagosa Springs. Check back in next Sunday for a preview of Day Three of Ride the Rockies 2013.

Ride on!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Training Update: It's all downhill from here!

Every time I run a race I figure out the halfway point before I start (for a half marathon, it's at 6.55 miles, 5K is 1.55, etc.) so I'll know when I'm halfway there. There's something about the halfway point that get's me fired up. I get a little shot of adrenaline, like a horse riding back to the barn.

On a typical day on Ride the Rockies the halfway point isn't the mileage. It's the top of the big climb, the highest point on the ride. As we always say at that point, "It's all downhill from here" (although it rarely truly is).

My and Big T at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Today I crossed the halfway point towards my training goal to ride 2,000 miles before June 8, the start of Ride the Rockies 2013. It was a great training ride for RTR, a 56.29 mi loop with a total ascent of 3,992.78 ft. and a maximum elevation of 7,887.14 ft. (minimum 5,453). We started near Chatfield Reservoir, road up Deer Creek Canyon, through World Famous Tiny Town, Indian Hills, Evergreen, Red Rocks, Morrison, Bear Creek Lake Regional Park and back to Chatfield on the C470 trail.
As we took off on our ride around 7:00 a.m. there were a bunch of hot air balloons taking off from Chatfield Reservoir
After today's ride, I have ridden 1,021 miles since January 1 (most of them on my Cyclops Fluid2 indoor trainer). But that means I still have 980 miles to ride in the next 6 weeks. That's an average of 163.33 miles per week, more than I have ridden any week so far this year.

So, it's definitely not all downhill from here! I definitely need a shot of adrenaline to get me going and maybe reaching the halfway mark will be it. So, how's your training going? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from fellow RTR riders around the country.

Ride on!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview Day One - Telluride to Cortez

Ride the Rockies 2013 starts seven weeks from today! Today and each Sunday until the start of the ride I will preview one day of the sevevn-day, 513-mile, ride from Telluride, Colorado, to Colorado Springs. Here is my preview of day one, Sunday, June 8...

With fresh legs and a mild hangover from the opening night party in Telluride, we'll ride 75 miles from Telluride to Cortez. We rode this route in the opposite direction on day two of Ride the Rockies 2008, from Cortez to Telluride. That day the ride began with a 62-mile climb to the summit of Lizard Head Pass. I posted from the summit that day looking forward to the 15-mile downhill slide into Telluride to Smuggler's Brew Pub, the official Team Bar2Bar finish line for the day.

The Ride the Rockies 2013 route travels 513 miles from Telluride to Colorado Springs
Telluride is a laid-back mountain town offering some of the most stunning vistas in Colorado. In 2008 we ended the evening at Poacher's Pub in the Mountain Village where I left my debit card at the bar. But that's a whole 'nother story. I look forward to returning to Telluride for the start of the 2013 ride. We may even try to go up Friday night to enjoy the sites before we meet up with old friends and make some new ones.

Sunday morning the ride will start in Telluride at an elevation of 8,750 ft. and ascend to 10,222 at the Lizard Head Summit, climbing approximately 1500 ft. in 15 miles. That'll be a good wakeup call! But then it's practically all downhill through Rico, Stoner and beautiful Dolores to Cortez, in the southwestern corner of Colorado near Mesa Verde National Park and Four Corners (the only spot in the U.S. where four states meet in one spot.

Ralph Dinosaur
Cortez is a historic mountain desert town founded in 1886 (the same year my great, great grandfather homesteaded in western Kansas. As I recall, I met up with Team Bar2Bar and Team DFL at the Mainstreet Brewery in 2008 then we went to see Ralph Dinosaur and the Fabulous Volcanoes at the street party (there is a party in every host town on Ride the Rockies!). Ralph Dinosaur also played when Cortez kicked off Ride the Rockies in 2006. No word yet on whether he will make an appearance in Cortez this year.

I am looking forward to returning to Cortez for the third time on Ride the Rockies. Day Two of Ride the Rockies 2013 will take us from Cortez to Durango. Check back in next Sunday for a preview.

Ride on!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Exposing the Big Fat (Beef) Lie

This past weekend we hosted my daughter's high school soccer team for dinner. Yes, we actually invited seventeen teenage girls to our house for dinner (well, I didn't, but that's a moot point). My wife and daughter (the inviter) informed me that I would be grilling burgers, a role I was more than willing to accept since it would get me out of the house!

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song
It did cross my mind that out of seventeen teenage girls there may be a vegetarian in the group (about 5% of the U.S. population consider themselves vegetarian), but we didn't plan anything special. As it turned out, one of my daughter's teammates brought their own veggie "burger" (if it ain't beef, it's not a burger!) for me to grill. For the record, I don't have a problem with that. I'd rather throw a veggie patty on my grill than foul it with fowl!

All American Flame Grilled veggie burgers (complete with fake grills marks).  Just what I want for my Memorial Day barbecue. Not!
As I carried a big plate of beef burgers to the grill my wife handed me the box of Boca "All American Flame Grilled veggie burgers." OK, I'll admit I had to laugh at that. But what really caught my eye were three big numbers: 15g protein, 55% less fat, 120 calories. So 15 grams of protein and 120 calories per serving? Not bad (a 3 oz. serving of lean beef provides 25 grams of protein for about 150 calories). But 55% less fat than what? A ground beef hamburger? Wait a doggone minute.

A 3 oz. ground beef burger provides 25g protein for only about 150 calories.
I don't have any issue with someone choosing to follow a vegetarian diet. But I do have a problem with marketing efforts that spread the misconception that beef is fat. As I first pointed out two years ago on this blog, ground beef (and other ground meat products) comes in many different lean/fat combinations. My grovery store carries 80/20, 85/15, 90/10 or even 93/7. So 55% less fat than what type of ground beef? The label didn't say.

My preference for hamburgers is 85/15 gound beef. I think it gives you the perfect combo of consistency, juiciness and flavor. In fact, the ground beef my wife bought for the party was 85/15. Upon further inspection the veggie patties were 93% lean, 7% fat (93/7). At 7% fat the veggie patties would have 55% less fat than 85/15 ground beef (55% of 15% is ~8%).

So the veggie patty really did have about 55% less fat than the beef burgers I was serving before cooking. This is key, Because when you grill burgers a lot of the fat drips into the fire. I didn't see any fat dripping from the veggie patty. My beef burgers shrank up during the cooking process as the fat cooked out. The veggie patty never changed size. So my guess is the fat content of the cooked products were about the same.

I saw a similarly confusing label on a package of ground chicken burgers at my grocery store. The front of the package says they are 90% lean, 10% fat. OK, fine.
But then there's this flag on the package that says "50% Less Fat" in big letters then "Than USDA data for 80% Lean/20% Fat Ground Beef." Congratulations. You can do simple math. Yes, 10% fat is 50% less than 20% fat! But again, if you are concerned about fat content you can buy 93/7 ground beef, which meets the USDA definition of lean (less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serving).

I do think choosing lean cuts of meat is important. I typically grill lean beef cuts like tenderloin, strip steak or T-bone (a terndeloin on one side of the bone and strip on the other). There are more than 29 lean cuts of beef that have less fat than a chicken thigh. Here's a a simple guide to Choosing and Cooking Lean Meats including beef, pork and poultry.

I suppose beef should be proud that chicken and veggies feel the need to market their "burgers" by comparing them to the original, one and only, hamburger. But please stop calling beef fat. As the old ad says, It's not only mean, it's untrue!

Ride on!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Training Update: Hitting the Open Road

Saturday was one of those days in Colorado when the warm sun and blue skies call you outside and there are few ways to experience it than to hit the open road on two wheels powered by your own two legs!
Easter weekend ushered in beautiful riding weather in Colorado. I was able to get my bike out on the road Saturday for the first time since early February and was anxious to see if all the miles on the indoor trainer were paying off. I rode a 52-mile loop from Castle Rock to Palmer Lake and back through Larkspur, Colorado. For the most part I felt really good during the ride but was quickly reminded that there's nothing like riding on the road to train for a road ride!

My Cyclops Fluid2 indoor trainer is a great way to maintain base miles during the winter and focus on spinning technique. It's also just great aerobic exercise. But there is really no way to simulate wind, hills and beautiful scenery of the open road on an indoor trainer!

So far I have logged 615 miles toward my goal to ride 2,000 prior to June 8, the start of Ride the Rockies. I'm a little behind schedule but I've only taken two long road rides this year totaling 104 miles. But by comparison last year at this time I had ridden 425 miles, 230 on the road. So I've ridden 315 more miles on my trainer so far this year. I'm really hoping those miles will pay off as I start adding on road miles.

With just over two months until Ride the Rockies and mote than 1,400 miles to reach my goal I'll have to log nearly 700 miles per month in April and May. That seems a little daunting but with a light travel schedule in the weeks ahead I think I can find the time, especially if the weather warms up and I can start commuting to work on my bike soon.

One thing is for sure, I'm looking forward to getting out onthe road more often in the cocming weeks. There's just nothing like hitting the open road on two wheels powered by your own two legs.

Ride on!