Thursday, February 26, 2009

What the !#$@%^*&@#$@# were you thinking?

Those were the first words that came out of my mouth as I lay on the side of the road shocked that my worst fear had just come true, I had been hit by a car.

Yesterday evening on my commute home I had good luck and made the 6:08 bus, which is a first for me. This means that I would get home 30 minutes earlier than usual and would not end up eating dinner nearly as late as the past couple of nights and weeks. Well, all that turned bust pretty fast.

I had ridden my bike to the bus stop at the Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont, CO. A strange turn of events for me, as normally I drive the 2 miles down the road, for convenience and time (often I have to stop by the supermarket on the way home and my messenger bag definitely cannot hold that much stuff and I only own racing bikes, so no panniers). My reason for riding was because I had a 12 pm lunch ride meeting with the Bikes Belong Crew, a non-profit advocacy group I am doing a research internship with and am hoping to get a job with in the future. This necessitated riding my bike to the bus.

After booking it down the bike path from CU's campus to the Boulder Bus Station and just making the bus, I settled in for the 30 minute ride back to Twin Peaks Mall and then my 10 minute ride up Sunset St. back home. Hopped off the bus, grapped my bike, secured my messenger bag, and helmet and went to the nearest intersection to wait for the light to turn green so I could ride the loop road around the mall and avoid as much traffic as possible in the dark.

Part way around the loop as I was heading North I saw to my left a Big Red Jeep Wrangler with those crazy big tires for offroading coming flying out of the parking lot area. Twin Peaks Mall parking was designed fairly well regardless of the uselessnes of this mall. There is an inner circle to drive on, parking, and then an outer circle which is two lanes each way. Not being interested in riding through the parking lot or the innner circle as I was travelling fairly briskly, about the speed limit (20 mph) I rode the outer circle. Well the Jeep came flying out of the parking lot towards an exit as I was about to enter the intersection of this exit. He neglected to slow down show any sign of looking both ways or do anything until I was lying on the ground and my bike had been dragged under his car about 10 feet away from me. No matter how hard I slammed on my brakes I was not able to stop in time. One thing that people may note is I should have stopped if it were an intersection. Well, this is a very under travelled intersection and thus the city has not put a stop sign for travellers on the outer loop of the mall but rather only on the entrance and exit ramps of this exit. Leaving me with the right of way.

Now I am laying on the ground in pain, angry, and looking at my mangled road racing and training bike on the side of the road as well as my bleeding elbow and knee. In my lack of being able to think rationally I only got the drivers name, phone #, and address and he left. Had I been thinking more clearly I would have called the police and had a report taken down then. Instead, not thinking, I had Shannon come and get me and take me to the nearest Hospital.

5 hours later I found out, thank God, that my leg was not broken nor my collar bone. These were my two biggest fears being a bike racer and being the type of person that does not sit still very well. Only injuries were some road rash, a severely bruised left calf muscle, and a partially separated AC in my left shoulder. This last injury I think is the worst, as the doctors didn't seem too concerned about my leg and were much more concerned about my shoulder overall. It is looking like it will take between 3-4 weeks to heal, which means though I will probably be back on the bike before then it is very unlikely I will be back on the mountain bike before then, hopefully on a new beautiful full carbon whip!

Bike damage, nothing is savalgeable except for maybe the shifters/brake levers a sad day as I had just rebuilt the whole drive train only a few weeks ago. Pics of the bike will be up shortly after I retrieve it from the back of Shannon's car. Unfortunately my injuries are not visibly serious so I do not look worse for the wear and thus photo's of that would be useless.

Now, time to recover, get these injuries healed as soon as possible and hopefully get back on the bike within the week, assuming I am feeling that much better, don't want to be a hero you know!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another good weekend in the books

Weekends are the time and place for relaxation and training. Consequently they both go hand in had very well. Train a lot in the morning hours and then relax through the afternoon. Though, I was not very productive with respect to school or any other project I may have going on I was very productive with respect to training and relaxing.

After talking with my buddy Jason on friday about a possible training ride saturday and then consulting with the coaches it was determined that at 10 am Saturday morning I would meet up with the Gateway Ride in Boulder. I was also tolled that the Gateway ride heads up to Carter lake for their trip and as this is about an hour north of Me I figured if I have Shannon drive me to Boulder and drop me off at the stop point I can just bail on the group as I get close to home and then save a lot of time driving to and from the ride. Unfortunately this led to me not having any warm up in my legs at the beginning of the ride as we briskly set out from Boulder. I have not ridden a group ride in quite some time and the closest I have come in the past 2 years has been collegiate racing back east. This turned out to be very similar to racing on the road but in a more fluid and fun way with far less possibility of crashing. The pace was hard and fast, we reached a typical landmark of mine only 10 minutes past what it would take me to get there from home and I live closer to Carter Lake than Boulder is! I could tell from the very beginning that this was going to be a good day, the legs felt good, and I felt like I could definitely conquer the world. Part way through the ride I came to the front to take my turn pulling over a small roller and found I had gapped the group pretty good suddenly, which set off the day of attacks. Then as we moved towards Carter Lake and started heading up the approach before the final ascent the group became disorganized while chasing down another attack. During this disorganization I ended up on the front a lot and by the time we hit the steep switchback ascent I found my legs were pretty dead and not willing to really do there job anymore. I fell off the pace up the climb, but was not the last to crest the top, which made me feel good. By the end of the carter lake before you descend back down the group regrouped and I was able to get back and sit in for awhile, work on the front, and even felt like I had the legs to go after one of the late attacks, but mistimed my move and couldn't get it going. Then the last little short steep kicker came and I lost contact hard core. It was tough and I was definitely way in the red. Not sure what was up, but maybe on these types of rides I should get back to my use of gu's every 30 minutes, like in racing, and that might keep the legs rolling a little stronger and faster. Spun back to town with Jason and definitely felt worked over by the time I got home. By the way, the ride started out in the nastiest wet conditions possible, leading to my face looking like this when I got home:

Almost as if I'd just had a muddy mountain or cross race!

Well, after spending a nice evening with Shannon resting and relaxing and then getting up bright and early sunday morning, can't seem to sleep in all that late anymore!?! I decided that my many weeks on the road bike without hitting the dirt were getting a little old and I needed some time ripping some singletrack. With temps nearing 60 and trail reports for Devil's Backbone and Blue Sky Trail being dry I loaded up the car and cruised up there. Man it was beautiful yesterday afternoon. Warm, sunny, and the trails were definitely in perfect condition. Maybe a little crowded for the first couple of miles up the first climb but by the time I hit the technical trails I was good and things were pretty empty. I cruised down the blue sky trails and the descents and then decided that I should get in some good climbing hours, which in this area is pretty easy. As I headed around I went up the Indian Summer Trail, good rip roaring fun with a nice switchback climb to the top, and then kept heading on to Horsetooth Res. I've never ridden the trails at Horsetooth Res, but have ridden up to it and definitely heard some good things. When I arrived I headed out on the main fireroad trail and then kept cruising up the Tower Trail, which is a beast of a fire road climb. If anyone has ridden this you know what it is like, just brutal. But if you want a comparison, the second set of climbs at the Breckenridge Fall Classic, or the second to last descent of the Firecracker 50. Basically, stupid steep. After a good 10 minutes of this I figured I should hit some singletrack and crusied down some trail I don't know the name of, but it was sweet!!!! I would have to say that of all the trails I've ridden in the Front Range Horsetooth definitely has some of the best!! It was beautiful, a good mix of in the woods and open field riding, technical but a good flow and definitely challenging!!! After finishing out a little loop at Horsetooth I headed back the way I came and found myself riding like a man possessed. I was cruising up climbs in my big ring and just laying the hammer down. Even made the return ride 7 minutes faster than it took me to get out there going the exact same route in reverse! But I did stop to take a photo, as I was about to head up the final climb back towards Devil's Backbone this is the view I had through the valley:

this photo really doesn't quite do it justice as it was with my cell phone, many I need to get a digital camera for this stuff!

All in all a good weekend with some definite fitness gains. Now for a day off, and back at it for my last week of training in this 4 week block before the cycle begins again and race season really starts on March 22nd!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I believe that we all have our weaknesses and that for the most part we ought not judge people for their weakness. My personal weakness is sweets. I love sweet food, whether it is a donut (I avoid those as much as possible), a muffin, cookies, pie, cake, ice cream it is tasty to me. So when I walked out of the supermarket with Shannon a few days ago and saw the little girls holding boxes of cookies, that is right girl scout cookies, I caved a little. Oh man girl scout cookies are good. So now, my kitchen has a whole bunch of yummy sweet things that I enjoy with chocolate, peanut butter, mint chocoloate, coconut, short bread, you name it I've got it. One thing I do have to say though is that I am very good about not overdoing it. When I eat sweets I tend to be good about just a few. Regardless it is probably good that I am a bike racer where training and racing allows me to burn off those extra calories.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Busy As Ever

Recently, I have been exceptionally busy with school and training!! This past week I have split my time between reading exceptional amounts of philosophy, particularly, ethical theories and training. Which has been good as this is what I love to do. The down side to all this is that my house turned into a disaster area with bike stuff strewn about and books all over the dining room table, it was brutal and I was going nuts. Finally, yesterday during Valentine's Day Shannon and I proceeded to clean, of which she definitely did more of and now the house looks great! Thanks sweetheart! But all this just makes me think about what life would be like if I could ever ride my bike for a living. Things would not be so tight with time and I would not have to rush around after my rides trying to get to class and get my reading done. I definitely love the challenge of school and cycling together and it does allow me to not procrastinate as much as I may otherwise, however, sometimes there is just so much to take care of that I go nuts!!

Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures from recent training rides. This week has been the start of intensity, and that means my rides are much shorter and I tend to not go to as many interesting places. So far this week I have ridden to Carter Lake and back twice. I love the Carter Lake ride, it is beautiful, fun, and definitely has some good solid climbs, however, you can only do the same ride so many times! Maybe today I'll head up to Ward and back for my ride or explore and ride up to Gold Hill?? I don't know.

Another exciting thing has happened this week though. The beer that Shannon and I made a number of weeks ago is finally ready to drink. We cracked open a bottle for Valentine's day last night and were very happy, we pulled it off! we made a great beer. I wouldn't say it is the most flavorful, but is a nice hoppy, but smooth Ale. Nothing like a dry hopped ale from Avery or Boulder Beer it has it's own special characteristics. Shannon and I are really happy with it and it was definitely a good way to kick off the Valentine's evening festivities of cooking fancy french food (Crepes, Lobster Bisque, and Baguette) and wine/champagne!

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Racing Schedule 2009

So for the past couple of months I have been thinking about my racing schedule for 2009 and there is a lot to think about. I've decided that I want to branch out a little bit more and do some more longer events in addition to the shorter events that I am accustomed to competing in. So here it is the tentative 2009 race schedule (everything except Cyclocross!):

Date Race
March 22nd - Coyote Classic, El Paso, TX
March 29th - Koppenberg Circuit Race
April 10-12 - MSC Rabbit Valley Run
April 18-19th - NMORS Tour of Socorro
April 26th - NMORS High Altitude Classic
May 2-3 - MSC Chalk Creek Stampede
May 9th - Front Range 50, Lakewood, CO
May 23-25 - MSC Chile Challenge
May 30th - Pajarito Punishment
May 31st - US Pro Cup Bump and Grind, AL
June 4-7 - Teva Mountain Games
June 13th - Winter Park Series Hill Climb Kick off
June 21-23 - MSC Wildflower Rush
June 27th - Winter Park Series XC
July 4th - Firecracker 50 - Marathon Nats
July 11th-12th - WPS Valley Point to Point/ Super D
July 16-19 - National Championships Granby, CO
July 25-26th - NMORS Frazer Mtn Madness
August 1-2 - Crankworx Colorado
August 7-9 - MSC Blast the Mass
August 9th - NMORS Cedro Peak
August 8-9 - US East Cup Mount Snow
August 15th - WPS XC
August 15-16 - US East Cup Windham
August 20-23rd - American Mountain Classic Stage Race
August 29th - WPS King of the Rockies Finale
September 4-6 - MSC Sol Survivor
September 11-13 - MSC Fall Classic
September 18-20 - Cactus Cup
September 20th - NMORS Horny Toad Hustle
September 26th - High Desert Screamer
October 4th - Road Apple Rally
October 10-11th - 24-Hour Nationals at Moab

As one can see there are a couple of conflicts listed here and as is obvious as well there are some long runs of a race occurring every weekend. I garuntee that I will not do every race on this schedule, however, these are the races on my radar that I would like to do so there is a good chance that if the race is happening and there is not a conflict I will be there! See you all out there!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Riding at Angles

Well today I was venturous, really venturous. The winds were howling and it was sunny and in the 50's. As I am accustomed to freezing for about 4 months every year and taking every bit of sunshine I can get I still have this nagging urge to get outside when the sun shines and not put myself on those indoor attempts at training (they really don't seem as effective as a good ride outside!). This turned out to be a not so good idea, the winds were really coming strong. Luckily as long as I headed west or east it wasn't much of a problem except for the occasional gust from the north, but I didn't do that. I meandered around in every possible cardinal direction and thus exposed myself to some sandblasting, a tail wind of epic proportions where I would spin a 120 cadence in the biggest gear on my road bike (53x12) or a insurmountable headwind where my cadence was closer to 70 in the 39x25. The hardest part of the day was the keeping upright or in a straight line while heading north or south. the winds would blow as hard as you can imagine off the mountains and rip my sideways, it was a very odd experience, then stop, so I would get my bearings get my cadence back and all of a sudden there they are again. This all amidst some traffic, not making for good times.

Lesson learned: when it is windy and you see the full trash cans in the alley behind your house blowing around like an empty plastic bag don't ride outside, it makes life a little scary!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 Things....

So I posted this on facebook a couple of days ago after being tagged in many other people's 25 things notes, but some of you may not be online networking nerds or are but don't check facebook so here it is:

1. I'm a college graduate and in graduate school for philosophy but still don't know what to do with my life.

2. Some of you may know this, but this year is my first year as a professional athlete, hopefully it goes well!?!

3. I am very good at wasting time, particularly on the internet when my reading is on the computer and not from a book.

4. Design and Architecture really interest me, especially lighting design and architectural design geared towards it, so many pretty things.

5. I have a 2 1/2 year old cat and a 7 month puppy that cause annoyance, aggravation, and laughter all at the same time.

6. I'm engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world! - she puts up with my cycling addiction and even encourages me!

7. Religion is confusing and difficult for me to know what to think about it. I really would love to have a religious mindset, but it is very difficult for me. I think I think too much about stuff - hence the bachelors in philosophy and soon to be masters.

8. I often regret not majoring in physics or engineering as they are far more practical fields.

9. My family can often be very difficult to deal with, but I love them regardless and look forward to family gatherings whenever we can all manage to be in the same place at the same time.

10. I love to travel, around the US, the world, wherever I am living. It is very hard for me to sit still - a problem when it comes to effective training as an athlete.

11. I enjoy all types of movies no matter how ridiculous and inane they are, I can always find something to appreciate in it.

12. I often do not believe I am as smart as my peers.

13. I really enjoy extended periods in the mountains with friends, regardless of the trials and tribulations one goes through, it is always fun. Spencer and Kate - last saturday was pretty awesome!

14. I am a very shy person. It takes a lot of mental preparation to call the pizza guy.

15. Weather greatly affects my mood. If it is gross and rainy out I tend to be very grumpy, unless I am lining up for a bike race (cross or mountain preferably), then I am smiling and laughing!?!

16. I love to cook food and eat food, it is one of the greatest pleasures I have.

17. I am a big fan of craft beers and expensive wines, but very rarely do I like any hard liquor.

18. Doing things from scratch, like making pizza, pasta, beer, wine, etc. is far more enjoyable than purchasing those items. There is a greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Typically, the challenge is what intrigues me.

19. I am not much of a manly man. I like beer, I like sports (kind of, only when I actually go to the game), and I like cars (but not from the normal guy's perspective, I don't know anything about how they work nor do I understand it, I like the ones that look cool and can do cool stuff e.g. Subaru WRX, Honda Element, etc.). I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, playing music/listening to music, and going to the theatre (ballet, opera, etc.) much more than most guys do.

20. I love getting lost in new places. It is the best way to learn anything about where you are.

21. I am obsessive with my blackberry and feel the urge/need to check it every time it buzzes because I have a message of some sort.

22. Leaving Meadville after High School was the best decision I have ever made in my life, but I miss all of you who are still living in PA and wish we could hang out more.

23. I have the worst memory on the planet, I can be asked to do something and within a minute completely forget what I was supposed to do. I can also tell myself that I have to do X and forget soon thereafter and get very confused as to what I was doing.

24. I wish I was a better driver in traffic and didn't get so nervous, especially now that I live in a large metropolitan area.

25. I gave up being a vegetarian because: a) I love food b) I am poor and can't afford to feed myself as a vegetarian c) eating all natural and organic animal products are healthy

Getting sick on a rest week!?!

So this week was meant to be a rest week, thankfully, after my adventures last saturday with Spencer and Kate I really needed it! Mostly because after putting in those 2.5 extra hours on the bike my ride time for the week was 18 hours 45 mins. This is the second biggest week I have ever done on the bike in my 4 years of racing and training, the biggest only being 19 hours 5 mins. So, to say the least I was pretty burnt, though, still feeling strong as I headed out for a recovery ride on Sunday morning.

Well, things got worse. Shannon has been sick all weekend, so I was spending a lot of time taking care of her and nursing her back to health, which unfortunately coincided with a big block of training, meaning my immune system was very unhappy. Consequently, tuesday morning I woke up with a sore throat, ugh! Still went out for my ride on Tuesday, as it was only a sore throat and actually felt really strong, then....Wednesday morning the sore throat was gone but my nose was plugged, almost as if I had taken two wine bottle corks and shoved them up there. Once again I still went out for my ride, nice and easy hour of recovery. Felt ok on the bike. A little fuzzy in the head, but not like I was beaten down or anything and I was able to ride in the proper zones that my heart rate monitor told me with respect to perceived effort and cadence. Then this morning, ugh! Sore throat still gone, nose still plugged, now I have this obnoxious tickle in my throat that makes me cough every once in a while, arrrggggh! Don't think I am going to ride today!

While being sick though I have had time to experiment with new tasty healthy foods though, as I am doing everything in my power to make things better. First of these is Kombucha:This stuff is pretty awesome, by the way! I have only tried the gingerberry flavor and the trilogy flavors, but they are mighty tasty and very good for you.

The other thing that I have been consuming a fair share of is Naked fruit juices, primarily the B-Monster. This stuff is might tasty and gets all of those good for you anti-oxidants that come in blueberries, plus other great fruites added to, it makes me happy when I drink it.

I've also been drinking Odwalla's Green Machine, mmmmmmm...... This stuff is like syrup but sweet and tasty. I recommend that everyone gives it a shot!!!

In fact I recommend everyone give these three things a shot as well, they are so tasty, it is pretty much ridiculous!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Epic Road errrr Mtb ride?

So yesterday I went out with a great plan. Ride to Carter Lake, come down on the north side and then follow Pole Hill Road up and over towards Estes Park. I thought this was a great plan as I have mapped this ride out on and found that it absolutely goes through. Not only this but I knew from riding between Estes Park and Lyons a number of times that Pole Hill Road is a nice dirt road at least on the Highway 36 side. Well, the night before, via Twitter, I found out that two of my Mafia Teammates (Spencer Powlisson and Kate Scheider) who happen to be ECCC alums like me were heading in the same direction with the same idea for a ride. As I don't live in Boulder I knew it would take them longer to get Carter Lake than me. However, by the time I left I had figured that I was not going to run into them. Turns out I was wrong. After I crested the first tough climb on Pole Hill Road and started heading down who do I see but Spencer and Kate checking their iphones to see if they are lost or not. Well, a short conversation later and we were cruising down a tarred and chipped road. Something that the 3 of us are quite used to and comfortable riding our road bikes on. Well, as the ride went on it got a little looser and rougher and significantly steeper. Normally I am cool with that, but on a road bike our easiest gear (at least for me) is a 39 x 25, which is a very hard gear to push up loose steep climbs on treadless tires. We climbed, climbed, and climbed somemore picking our way through some gnarly terrain! For most of the ride things were going ok, I would say the biggest problem we were having were the couple of snow patchy sections that I had to dab on causing me to significantly lose my ability to clip in with my speedplay pedals. As we kept going we thought things were getting better, turns out we were wrong. At some point we came down a descent that well would have been tough on our mountain bikes with fat knobby tires and suspension, something we did not have. Then I saw a telltale sign of bad things to come, we were on forest service roads. This means no winter maintenance. Consequently turned into a couple of miles of hiking before we finally reached the final descent. The final descent was bad! I couldn't clip in due to snow packed cleats and thus had a ver hard time controlling my bike. Eventually, we hit the road section of Pole Hill Road and I was very happy, VERY HAPPY! This meant a short dirt road descent and then a fast 25 miles back home!

Check out Kate coming up one of the snowy climbs we did, before things got really crazy!

During this ride I learned a lot about what not to do. When looking at MapMyRide there is a reason why people typically don't go all the way on certain roads, they don't connect in the way one would hope. Another lesson I learned, it is always better to do adventure rides where you are exploring on longer training days instead of shorter ones. Finally, if you are going to explore don't do it alone. Thanks Kate and Spencer for going through that craziness yesterday, it would have been 100% unbearable without you guys losing heart with me everytime we saw the road go up again!

For another perspective check out Kate's Blog