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, February 23, 2014

Ride the Rockies 2014 Registration Closes Sunday, March 2!

One week from today registration closes for Ride the Rockies 2014 and then the agony begins. And I'm not talking about training. I'm talking about waiting five whole days to find out if we got in! Ride the Rockies is capped at 2,000 riders but every year around 3,000 apply, so registration is done by lottery. Riders will be notified by e-mail on Friday, March 7 (I'll also be checking my bank account hourly to see if the $495 charge goes through!).

My typical route takes me through some beautiful ranch country along the Front Range of the Rockies. Farms and ranches help preserve open space and wildlife habitat while turning marginal crop land into high quality beef!
I've applied seven times in the past 10 years and was selected for all seven, so am batting .1000, but that also makes me wonder how long I can keep the streak alive. Theoretically, your odds of being selected would be the same every year, regardless of whether you were selected the previous year. It's the same theory that the odds of a coin flip are always one in two. But for some reason I feel like the more times I get in the worse my odds are in the future (a mistaken belief known as the Gambler's Fallacy).

Maybe that reason is because it's not a fallacy for Ride the Rockies. This year they instituted a new weighting system for people who registered in 2013 and didn't get in. "A weighted lottery means we adjust (weight) an individual’s odds of being selected into the ride any year following his or her application being declined," explains the RTR registration site. If you do get in, your chances actually do go down the next year.

So, I'll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed as I ride on my indoor trainer this week, in hopes that the miles I've been logging aren't all for naught! I'm off to a strong training start in 2014, about 200 miles ahead of where I was last year on this date. I've ridden 525 miles since Jan. 1, most of it indoors, although I've been able to get out on the road more than last January/February.

How's your training going? Any suggestions for great rides to do if we don't get in to RTR this year?

Ride on!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ride the Rockies 2014 Route

Imagine riding your bike from sea level to the summit of K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth. That's the equivalent of the total elevation gain for Ride the Rockies 2014, as unveiled tonight at the RTR14 route announcement party. Here are the ominous numbers: 6 days, 473 miles, 28,265' elevation gain, 6 mountain passes, 2 historic bridges and 3 mountains!

The summit of K2 sits at 28,251 ft. above sea level, 14 feet less than the total elevation gain of Ride the Rockies 2014!
Here is the 2014 route (June 8-14):

Day One: Boulder to Winter Park -- 89 miles and 8,857' elev. gain in the first day including Boulder Canyon, Central City, Blackhawk, Peak to Peak Highway and Berthoud Pass (11,315 ft.). This is the first time for Winter Park to serve as a host community!

Ride the Rockies Director Chandler Smith kicks off the route announcement party.
Day Two: Winter Park to Steamboat Springs -- at 94 miles this is the longest day of the ride (following a brutal first day). Starting in Winter Park, riders will climb Muddy (8,772 ft.) and Rabbit Ears (9,426 ft.) passes and finish in Steamboat Springs.

I met the Solar Roast Coffee food truck team at the party and hope to see them on the ride! Coffee is an essential on Ride the Rockies :)
Day Three: Steamboat to Steamboat -- A short 53-mile loop starting and ending in Steamboat Springs. I love this. Steamboat is a great place to hang out for two days and soak in the hot springs.

Day Four: Steamboat Springs to Avon -- 82 miles crossing the Stage Bridge ending in Avon, whose representative promised the "best night ever" on Ride the Rockies!

Odell Brewing Co. is once again the official beer of Ride the Rockies! Beer is another essential on the ride. Liquid carbs!
Day Five: Avon to Breckenridge -- 75 miles featuring Battle Mountain (9,231 ft.), Tennessee Pass 10,424 ft.), Fremont Pass (11,318), and Redcliffe Bridge. The mayor of Breckenridge said they are lifting a 25-year camping ban just to host the ride :)

Day Six: Breckenridge to Golden -- A tough 80-mile final day with 5,000 ft. of elevation gain. Cyclists will ride over Swan Mountain (9,520 ft.), Loveland Pass (11,992) and over Lookout Mountain (7,374) before dropping into Golden and finishing under the historic Golden Arch. 
The famous Golden Arch (not to be confused with the golden arches :)
This is five really tough days of riding with one short/rest day. What I love about the route is that I have never ridden a single day of this ride. I've ridden bits and pieces but never the entire day. That's unusual after completing seven Ride the Rockies!And now it's time to register and wait to see if we get in. That's the bummer. There's only 2,000 slots and more than 3,000 riders apply :(
But I'm seven for seven in applying and getting in. :)

Ride on!


Ride the Rockies 2014 Route Announcement Party is Tonight!

It's good to be home after a week at the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville. It's a crisp sunny winter Colorado morning, the Jayhawks play this afternoon, and the official Ride the Rockies 2014 Route Announcement party is tonight! The party runs from 6-10 at the Exdo Event Center in Denver but the big moment comes at 8 pm mountain time with the unveiling of the 2014 route. Follow me on Twitter  (@REAL_BEEFMAN) for live updates at the route is announced!
My wife had a big bone-in ribeye waiting for me when I got home from Nashville!
At last year's party they had representatives from each destination town along the 2013 route reveal their location on stage one at a time. The anticipation grew as they announced the start in Telluride, with the first two stops in Cortez, Durango and Pagosa Springs. The crowd buzzed as people speculated about a return to Chama, New Mexico, a popular stop on the 2006 ride. The actually booed when the next representative revealed they were from Alamosa (not one of my favorite stops, but climbing Wolf Creek Pass was worth it!). The mood picked back up when the final three stops were announced: Salida (a crowd favorite), Canon City, and Colorado Springs. After a fire reroute on Day 5, RTR 2013 ended up being the longest Ride the Rockies in history.

I expect there will be similar drama tonight. I will post the route here as soon as possible after the announcement.

Ride on!


Sunday, February 2, 2014

What Time Does the Superbowl Start and Did Punxsutawney Phil See His Shadow?

When I woke up this morning my Twitter and Facebook news feeds were blowing up with people talking about #SuperBowl 48 or #GroundhogDay. But my first thought this morning was that today kicks off the Annual Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show (#Beefmeet)! Yep, while everyone else is contemplating how many more weeks of winter #PunxsutawneyPhil predicts and #WhosGonnaWin the big game, today begins a pilgrimage of more than 7,000 farmers and ranchers from around the country to the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
My friend Dan McCarty (@McCartyCattle) tweeted this pic of newborn calves on his Colorado ranch as he headed out to Nashville for #Beefmeet
"So what's the big deal," you ask? This is the meeting where the entire beef community gets together to talk about better ways to produce great-tasting beef that is safe, nutritious and sustainable for the future. This is where animal health experts, veterinarians, and nutritionists share the latest information on how to provide the best care for cattle, even in the midst of a winter storm.

One 3 oz. serving of lean beef provides more than 10% of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins for less than 10% of your daily calories.
We also have a pretty amazing lineup of speakers and once-in-a-lifetime entertainment events for the cattlemen and women who make the journey. Captain Richard Phillips will be there, along with Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli Manning. Interestingly enough, last year we had Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the real "Blindside" parents of Michael Oher, who played (and won) in the Super Bowl that week with the Baltimore Ravens. Wonder if that bodes well for Peyton and the Broncos? (See, there is a Super Bowl connection here!)

For many, this is their vacation. It's tough to leave the farm or ranch when you care for animals. When I go on vacation I take my black lab, Casey, to Camp Bow Wow. There is no Camp COW Wow! Caring for farm animals is a huge obligation that requires 24/7/365 commitment. But that's what they love doing, which is one reason I love working for farmers and ranchers.

The main reason I look forward to this week every year is that I get to reunite with so many of my beef community friends from around the country, enjoy some great beef, shoot the bull in the bar :)

By the way, Phil saw his shadow and the game starts at 6:30 p.m. eastern. Speaking of the game, these beef and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms will impress your friends at the party!

Ride on!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ride the Rockies 2014 Training: Adding Hill Workouts

Last week I posted an article from @BicyclingMag about "no hill" hill workouts, which reminded me that one of the areas I want to focus on this year is getting better at climbing. When I ride with strong riders like Big Troy and The Boys I seem to do fine keeping up and doing my share of pulling on the flats. But when we get to the climbs above 6% grade I drop off.

This past summer, following Ride the Rockies, I began doing some hill workouts, focusing less on accumulating miles and more on building strength and agility. It paid off late in the season on rides like the Buffalo Bicycle Classic Epic route, a 110-mile course with 6,253 ft. of elevation gain!

The Buffalo Epic starts with a grueling 25-mile, 4,000 ft. Category 1 climb from 5,429 in Boulder, Colorado to 9,403 ft. on the Peak to Peak Highway to Ward, Colorado.
I am fortunate enough to have some great hills near my house. Coachline Road is a one-mile-long climb from 6,275 ft. to around 6,525 (approx. 250 ft.) then drops 150 ft. to 6,360. This is what the elevation profile looks like going up and over 4 times for a total of 12 miles and 1,600 ft. of climbing (not sure why this says 311, that's clearly off).

I try to ride uphill at 80-85 RPMs and an effort level around 8 out of 10 on the first climb, getting out of the saddle and pushing hard for the final .2 miles. I spin around 100-110 RPMs on the downhill. On the shorter, steeper climb I ride at a lower RPM (70-75) and focus on providing steady power.

By incorporating these hill workouts in my training earlier this year I hope to improve my climbing skills before Ride the Rockies 2014 :)

Ride on!