Le Tour Withdrawals

I had settled into a nice routine during the Tour. Watch until I had to go to work. Ignore the Internet all day so as to remain ignorant of the result.* After work and after my ride, settle in to watch the TiVoed action. Fast forward through what I’d already seen. Stop on the interviews. Cheer for the Garmin-Chipotle boys.

It was a good routine. And now two days out, I still have acute withdrawal symptoms. So to assuage the withdrawal, here’s a list of Tour de France moments that have stuck with me.

  • Will Frischkorn in the break on Stage 3 (in which he finished 2nd). I may have been leaping around my apartment yelling, cheering, and willing him to the finish. It was awesome.
  • In the last 5k of Stage 9, Ricardo Ricco riding away from everyone like they weren’t moving. At the time I watched incredulously. A couple stages later he was thrown out for doping, but in that moment, without knowledge of his stupid, doping ways, it was an amazing thing to watch.
  • Marcus Burghardt is a bad@$$ (yes, this guy). How many times did he lead out Cavendish — going all out, head tipped to the side, cranking out the speed, stringing out the peloton behind? He was always there. It was nice that he got to pick up a stage win as well.
  • Danny Pate‘s post-Stage 15 interview. A tough mix of immediate post-race raw emotion — fatigue, disappointment, and attempt at perspective. To me his result was impressive, but for an elite cyclist, it can’t be easy to try to be happy with 3rd when 1st was so close.
  • That one dude who actually put the food wrapper back in his pocket. I like to think the left behind water bottles get picked up by spectators. But all of those wrappers that get tossed about? Egads. Can someone tell me that they have a team of cleaners for that? Anyway, so yes, I appreciated when I saw what I believe was the only shot caught of a rider safely storing his wrapper in his jersey pocket. Thanks Juan Jose Oroz. (And for helping me put a name with the action since I had forgotten it.)

What now? I’ve attempted to pick back up my usual NPR morning routine. But, I don’t know, the Marketplace Morning Report with Scott Jagow just isn’t as entertaining as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen attempting to talk around a passing shot of a nature break.

* It’s not easy for a web geek who is a web developer by trade to avoid the Interweb.


Crazy weather, crazy person

Note to self: Try not to so poorly misread a storm ever again.

Thursday night I headed out to ride the dams. I noticed dark clouds in the north, but figured if I cut out part of the ride (not going north for some extra miles before hitting the dams) and headed directly west then south I would miss the storm. Can you guess where this is going? Yeah, I was totally wrong. All was well as I went over Bingham Hill and headed south to the first dam. Within a mile of turning south, a stiff crosswind was hitting me from the west. I looked over to see a wall of heavy rain sweeping down out of Rist Canyon. But I could still see blue sky ahead, so I soldiered on. Another half mile, and I felt the beginnings of rain.

I began to weigh my options. Turn around with the best option being to go back over Bingham? But then I still didn’t have any decent shelter options since I was 7+ miles from home. Or keep going and hope to at least make it to the top of the first dam where there was a bathroom? I decided to continue on. It just kept getting worse. By the time I reached the bottom of the first dam climb, the clouds were on top of me, and the rain was getting more intense. Thunder was overhead, and I could see lightening striking ahead of me.

I’ve never climbed that dam so fast in my life. It went something like, climb, climb, oh god, climb, oh god, oh god, faster, faster, come on, come on, oh god, climb, climb, bathroom!, yes!. The entrance to the shelter area was down the road, so I opted to hop off, throw my bike on my shoulder and scramble down the grassy embankment to the bathroom shelter.

I crowded into the shelter with a guy with the same idea. Not two seconds later it started to hail.

I had time, so I chatted with the guy. It slowly dawned on me that the guy might be somewhere in the range of friendly crazy to certifiable crazy. Among the stories he told me in our (roughly) half hour of chatting:

  • He rode in the Tour. Yes, THE TOUR. He crashed, though, and thirty riders rode over him. He’s not sure how he survived.
  • He liked to train with hard tires so he didn’t have to worry about flats. He was an engineer and basically invented these tires. He doesn’t have the patent, though.
  • The mafia was after him when he lived in Utah. So, he said goodbye to his lovely wife and house and headed to Argentina.
  • He was in Argentina only two days before la policia woke him to haul him to jail for second degree murder. Apparently, he was set up by his brother and a friend. Luckily, he had another friend who managed to get him out of the country.

Soooo…this is where I started to wonder if I should worry about this friendly crazy person. I mean, I can appreciate a “story teller,” but now I was thinking I should get out of dodge. The bulk of the storm had passed to the southeast, so I dumped the water off my seat and made preparations to leave. I said my goodbyes and headed down the wet road.

By the time I got home, I was soaked, water was sloshing around in my shoes, and I was covered in dirt and grit, but I was home, and I had quite a story. I also realized my threshold was higher than assumed. I pushed it up that climb way harder than I ever do, and didn’t feel that bad. Sure, adrenaline probably had something to do with it, but it makes me think I need to push my limits more.

Wish I could have got my shoes dry before my ride the following morning though.


Copper Triangle Recon

Last weekend, the ladies (and a couple husbands) and I headed to the mountains to do some Copper Triangle recon. The mission? To scout the terrain to perhaps allay our nerves and to enjoy the Colorado mountains in the summer.

We arrived mid afternoon on Saturday and decided to check out Vail Pass after setting up camp at Black Lake. So we geared up and made the quick descent down the west side to Vail, then flipped around and started the ten mile climb back up. Descending is not exactly a great warm up, but my legs finally settled into their fate. It’s mostly a mid-grade steady climb save for a couple spots where the engineers decided against paying attention to gradient. Or maybe they wanted to see how fast cyclists could flip through a whole chainring of gearing. I noticed my front tire was soft about three miles from the top, but decided to ignore it. Yes, this is highly recommended by the professionals. But, I made it. It wasn’t an easy climb, but it wasn’t Rist Canyon (the local climb by which I measure all other climbs), so there’s that.

Sunday morning, we cruised down the east side of Vail Pass into Copper Mountain on our way to conquer Fremont Pass. Of course my computer stopped working sometime shortly after we rode out of Copper, so I have no real data on Fremont. I do know that the first couple miles were an easy climb, so I camped out in my middle chainring wondering when the grade would kick up. It eventually did, and I tapped out 4 miles of 7% grade. Fremont Pass is weird in that when you think you’ve summited, you haven’t. It feels almost downhill to the pass, but I noticed I was still working quite a bit. We all gathered at the anti-climactic top of the pass and cruised back down into Copper. After a stop at Starbucks, we climb the last 6 miles back up the east side of Vail Pass.

Then we “recovered” with burgers in Frisco.

No long rides for this recon mission, but I do feel better about what I’ll be doing in less than a week.


Things I’m Sure Of

I’m quite certain an old Nissan parked on a street in Fort Collins does not need a car alarm, especially a car alarm sensitive enough to be tripped multiple times (3:30am, 6:00am, 7:40am, 9:00am, 9:30am) by a passing bike or cat.

Some quick research tells me that the model in question, a Nissan 240SX, was last produced in 1998 which makes the car at least 10 years old with a value of at most $9500.



I’m Awesome

So awesomely clumsy, I guess, that I managed to lose not one, but both shoes off my feet on my commute home. It remains a mystery how I lost the first one as I was pedaling fiercely to get through a light before it changed. Then as I swung my bike around to grab it, the other fell off my foot.

Hopefully the sight of a woman in a skirt throwing down her bike and chasing after both heels scattered on the pavement was entertaining for the cars stopped at the nearby busy intersection.


The Copper Triangle (or why all I do is bike)

Remember that bike I mentioned a while back? Well, we’ve gotten very well acquainted over the last year. We’ve grown especially close over the last three months as I train (a term I use loosely) for the Copper Triangle, a 77 mile alpine ride over 3 mountain passes. My training regime consists mostly of riding as much as possible, or TitS (Time in the Saddle), as my friend Rachel calls it. Rachel I also “blame” for getting me into this as she suggested the ride back in January. I hesitated, but, with several other friends on board, I decided to go for it.

Much of the winter and early spring while I waited for longer days and clear roads was spent in spin class hoping to hang on to some of last season’s legs (results: mixed). Once the days were longer, I headed out. With my TitS training plan in place, I soon realized I would need a saddle upgrade. Ouch. So, the stock Etape saddle went aside in early May. Since the middle of May, save for a few vacation days, I’ve been logging 100+ miles per week. The last month, I’ve been in the 130-150+ per week range — including at least one 50+ mile ride a week (and edging this up gradually). This past week I hit about 170, logging ~60 on Friday and ~70 on Sunday. Of course I got a flat two miles from home on Sunday.

For the most part, I just try to get in as many climbing miles as I can, mixing in some flat miles to give myself a break. As we did last year, my Rist buddies, Tracy and Catherine, (also riding the Copper Triangle) and I once again completed our Rist Canyon series. Happily, we all noted that we were stronger riders than last year.

So how’s my training plan working? Well, I think. A ride that used to be hard last year is now a standard. On tough climbs I’m seeing my speed inch up, if only by 1 or 2 mph. In mid May, a fifty mile ride meant I didn’t want to look at my bike the next day. Now I’m mostly recovered the same day and ready to do at least a recovery ride the next day. The 70 yesterday felt way better than 50 did a month ago. I think I could have done 10 more, if I wasn’t bored (iPod died 40 miles in). And, frankly, all this riding does not hurt the muscle tone of one’s legs.

But my stomach still gets squirmy when I think that the ride is less than a month away.