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, May 27, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview Day Five: Alamosa to Salida

I'm looking forward to a return visit to The Victoria Bar for the fifth time on Ride the Rockies!
Day 5 of Ride the Rockies 2013 (June 13) ends in my favorite RTR city of all time, Salida, home of The Victoria Bar (known simply as The Vic). We have stopped in Salida on 4 of the 6 Ride the Rockies I've completed. In fact, it was in Salida on my first RTR, after a late night at The Vic, that I learned one of the most important lessons I have learned about riding at altitude: staying hydrated is one of the keys to avoiding altitude sickness!

Relaxing at Riverside Park in Salida is the reward for the long slog from Alamosa!
There's just something about Salida that brings out the party in a lot of riders. The beer tent location in Riverside Park is just a great place to hang out, drink beer and listen to music. After the sun goes down the party at the The Vic will pick up quickly. After all, it's just across the street! Just remember: beer, water, beer, water, beer...!

The ride from Alamosa to Salida begins with a long, flat, straight shot due North before the climb to Poncha Pass begins. Other than the views of the surrounding mountain peaks there's not much to get excited about along this stretch. The elevation stays between 7,500 and 7,600 the first 43 miles! We do ride past the Great San Dunes National Park but we don't really get a good view of it from Colorado Highway 17.

Team DFL President Kris Cambria and her friend Karen made a new friend at The Vic on the 2006 ride.
From mile 43 to 70 we climb steadily from 7,600 to 9,019 ft. at the summit of Poncha Pass. Then it's all downhill the final 13 miles to Salida and a cold beer and good friends at The Vic. It just doesn't get any better!

Ride on!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview Day Four: Pagosa Springs to Alamosa

Day Four of Ride the Rockies (June 12) is longest mileage day on the 2013 ride and features a climb over Wolf Creek Pass, one of the major mountain passes in Colorado I have not ridden. Leaving Pagosa Springs we will climb the first 24 miles from 7,126 ft. to 10,850 ft. at the summit. Although the elevation profile makes it appear as though it is all downhill from there I know better.

At a rest stop somewhere in the San Luis Valley on RTR 2006 with Patti and Mr. Potato Head. The rest stop featured locally-grown baked potatoes with all the fixins. I hope they are back this year!
After truckin' on down the other side of Wolf Creek Pass the terrain flattens out into San Luis Valley, the largest intermountain valley in the world, covering more than 8,000 square miles at an elevation of just over 7,500 ft. above sea level. The final 50 miles into Alamosa will be mostly flat riding through potato and barley fields with no protection from the sun or wind. However, the views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the eastern border of the valley should provide some distraction (if we remember to look up!).

Crossing the New Mexico
state line in 2006
We rode up the valley from the south on the 2006 ride after an overnight in charming Chama, New Mexico (the only time Ride the Rockies route has strayed from the State of Colorado). By all accounts it one also one of the best stops in the history of the ride. I admit I was a little disappointed when the day three route was announced and it didn't include Chama. I would have welcomed a return visit to the charming town of 1,200 people, most of which showed up to welcome us, including the mayor.

Kris (with a K) adorns the mayor of Chama with a Team DFL tattoo
Riding north into Alamosa that year we spent most of that day battling a stiff headwind. And it was hot. I got into a small pace line for the final 30 miles or so which helped, until I had a flat with just under 10 miles to go and had to stop to change my tube. When I finally rolled into the overnight are a the fairgrounds I was sweaty, tired and unhappy. I don't have the fondest memories of Alamosa. It is my least favorite stop on the six RTRs I've completed. But there will be beer, so life will go on!

And so will the ride. Day Five we will head north out of Alamosa to Salida, my absolute favorite overnight stop on RTR :)

Ride on!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Training Update: Ramping Up the Mileage

With only four weeks left until the start of Ride the Rockies 2013, it's time to ramp up the mileage on the road. Fortunately, spring has finally sprung in Colorado and the snow is (hopefully) gone in Denver. My goal is to ride 775 miles in the month of May, averaging 175 per week, or 25 per day. That's about an hour and half of riding per day (an average) so it is a major time commitment!

My Bike to Work route takes includes parts of the Cherry Creek and E-470 Trails in south Denver.
Finding the time to ride can be tough, especially when you are balancing travel for both your job and family events this time of year (like graduations this month in Kansas and Portland!). One of the ways I have made it work in past years is riding to and from my office, a 50-mile round trip, during National Bike Month in May. Riding 25 miles 2x per day is great training for Ride the Rockies.

Click to Enlarge
I hit my goal this week, riding 175.6 miles. However, next week is going to be tough since I am traveling 5 of the next 7 days! In fact, it is not possible. My goal is to get in 75 miles, so I will need to do some serious catching up in the weeks ahead to make my goal.

So how is your training going? Are you Ready to Rock?!

Ride on!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why Do Motorists Hate Cyclists?

Charles, a non-cycling friend, tagged me in a Facebook post this past weekend. The question he posed sparked an interesting exchange that has bugged be ever since:
What is it about a bicycle marathon past my home that rubs me the wrong way? Maybe Daren Williams has an idea. Wife says I am jealous. So that one is already taken. Lol
It's a great question. Why do motorists hate cyclists? A comment from Lisa, one of Charles' friends, shed some light on the answer:
Either you like cycling or you hate it. Cycling is big out here, and we've got behind races- they cause big headaches. And the last race they had through Colorado Springs, people went as far as spreading tacks and glass on the route.
I assume she is talking about the USA Pro Challenge, which rolled through Colorado Springs this past summer. But you know what they say happens when you assume, so I shouldn't. But that didn't stop her from assuming something about me in her next comment:
I think it has to do with the perception that cyclists see themselves as superior, part of the environmentalist liberal elite. And just the fact they cause traffic problems.
Well, I must say that is the first time I have ever been accused of being "part of the environmentalist liberal elite." And I don't take that as a compliment! Fortunately, another friend of Charles, Matt, came to my rescue:
I get annoyed when people talk about the Liberal environmentalist elite. There is a religion out there that shuns science and embraces ignorance. Unfortunately for them, their raft is sinking from all the people jumping on it and soon it will capsize from a changing climate and rising seas. I could go on, But that's the crux of what I was getting at. BP has estimated that we only have about 17 decades of recoverable natural gas left. I've studied scarcity of resources and what happened to former civilizations that overused their gifts from the commons, they disintegrate, and collapse, after taking everyone else's resources. Riding bikes isn't a terrible idea from the standpoint of sustainability.
Oh great, my only ally in this conversation is part of the Liberal environmentalist elite! Just what I needed. Riding bikes isn't a terrible idea from the standpoint of sustainability?! I assume (there I go again), that Matt is talking about replacing cars and trucks with bikes. But I'm sorry, as a cyclist I can tell you that bicycles are a terrible form of transportation.

I ride 25 miles to/from work every May in honor of National Bike Month but I don't do it to be "sustainable." I'd much rather be driving my car. It's faster, more comfortable, and much more efficient. I ride to/from work to train for Ride the Rockies. Riding 25 miles 2x daily is great exercise but it is impractical for commuting on a regular basis (especially during winter in Colorado!).

So why do motorists hate cyclists? Is it jealousy, as Charles' wife suggested? I doubt it. Why would anyone riding comfortably in a climate-controlled, audio-infused, petroleum-powered vehicle be jealous of some sweaty middle-aged man in Lycra?

Is it the terrible inconvenience of having to share the road with an occasional cyclist or that once-a-year cycling event? Seriously? Are you in that big a hurry to get to work? Thankfully, I think Lisa finally came up with the answer:
Okay, then, maybe it's the shorts!:)
Granted. Spandex shorts don't look good on very many people. Especially middle-aged men. So allow me to explain. The shorts are not a fashion statement. They are functional. Without getting too personal, suffice it to say that padding and spandex help prevent cycling saddle sores.

I tried to explain this to Charles in my response to his question: "What is it about a bicycle marathon past my home that rubs me the wrong way?"
Not getting rubbed the wrong way is why we wear spandex. You could try that.
Ride on!


P.S. An oldie but a goodie. Why bike shorts should be black...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview Day Three: Durango to Pagosa Springs

Departing Durango on day three of Ride the Rockies 2013 we will climb from 6,512 ft. to 8,000 ft. in the first 15 miles, crossing briefly through the San Juan National Forest. The rugged peaks of the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado make them one of my favorite ranges in the Colorado Rockies. The contrast of the rocky outcroppings rising from the desert valleys is dramatic.
The high and rugged San Juan Mountains

Around mile 15 we will turn south and will come within a few miles of the New Mexico border, riding through Navajo State Park before turning north to Pagosa Springs, a popular destination for people seeking the healing powers of the hot springs ("Pagosah" is the Southwester Ute Indian word for healing waters). After riding 225 miles in three days I may just have to take a plunge myself.


Although the hot springs would not qualify as an official Team Bar2Bar "watering hole" the Bear Creek Saloon definitely does. We spent several hours liquid carbo-loading at this fine establishment on the 2006 ride, my first visit to Pagosa Springs.

Team Bar2Bar captain Paul the Pilot and a rider we have met several times on RTR (but whose name I can't remember! Ann, maybe?)

We may want to take it a little easy this year, though, as day four begins with THE CLIMB of the 2013 tour, Wolf Creek Pass. But I'll save that for next week's preview. Until then...

Ride on!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is National BEEF BIKE RUNNER Month!

I love May. It's my birth month. May is alsoNational Beef Month, National Bike Month and National Runners Month! So what's not to love?!

Back in 2010 (the year Dick's Sporting Goods designated May as Beef Runners Month), I launched the National Beef Runners Month Challenge to "eat beef and get some exercise every day in the month of May." Only this year I am focused on cycling. So, I an renewing the challenge but changing the name to the National Beef Bike Month Challenge!

Frankly, I don't care if you run, ride, walk or Zumba. The goal is to move for 30 minutes (elevating your heart rate beyond normal activity) and eat at least 3 oz. of lean beef to fuel your physical activity, every day for 31 days. It's a simple, doable, tasty challenge!

My personal goal is to ride an average of 25 miles per day during National Beef Bike Month. That's approximately 90 minutes of exercise each day, so I get to eat a lot more beef :)

This was taken THIS MORNING, May 1, 2013!
My goal is part of a much bigger goal to ride 2000 mile between January 1 and June 8, in training for Ride the Rockies 2013. And I'm behind schedule. An unusually snowy spring in Colorado has made it difficult to log road miles. But I've spent a lot of time on my Cyclops Fluid2 indoor bike trainer, so I'm  not too far behind. 175 miles per week, 775 miles in 31 days. It's a stretch goal, but it's doable.

So what is your goal? Wherever you are in your persoanl fitness journey, I encourage you to challenge yourself this month. If you are doing nothing, start small. Walk for 30 minutes. If you already exercise every day, try something new. And every day after you reach your goal, reward yourself with lean beef, the nutritional powerhouse.

Ride on!