Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Race Schedule

Some people post the races they plan to do on their blog as a way to make a commitment. Seems like a good idea; if you announce to the world what races you plan to do, you may be more likely to stick to those commitments.

I've raced every year since 2000; mountain bike racing, adventure racing or (usually) both. a little bit of running races. That's about a decade of racing. I enjoy racing; it feeds the competitive side of me. The kind of racing I do transports me to beautiful locales, often at stunning times (like 2:00 am under a full moon). Racing also give me a goal, a reason to eat well, run and ride a lot.

However, it takes time and money to race and train. Last year racing kept me away from my honey a fair bit; more than I wanted. I've taken this into account as I plan for my 2009 racing season. My plans are as follows:

April - no racing
May - no racing
June - no racing
July - no racing
August - no racing
September - no racing
October - no racing
November - no racing
December - no racing

Yup - NO RACING the entire year!

This does not mean I will sit around and get sloppy and fat! On the contrary, no racing will allow me and Jesper to go out and create our own adventures. We will go out for LONG rides on the bikes, exploring for hours and hours, getting lost and then found again. We will take Strelka on overnight camping trips. We will run long distances together, using the fast packing gear we have accumulated. We will get more into bouldering and rock climbing. We will do real down hill mountain biking.

I will be able to do ANY ride I want (gurlz rides, Redstone rides, ...) ride as hard as I can, and not have to worry about how it will affect an upcoming race; thus providing fodder for my competitive side.

I'm really excited about NOT racing! There, I've committed!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Snow Storm

It happens pretty much every year. Our weather starts to get warm through March and then BAMMM - mid-April arrives with a spring snow storm. It happened again this year.

This year, Front Rangers were lulled into a false sense of security with a dry and warm winter. Folks were getting used to riding their bikes in shorts. Trails were snow, ice and mud free. We hadn't seen any precipitation in months. And everyone thought it would continue that way into summer.

Not so fast! A massive weather system developed that would bring significant quantities of precip to the Rocky Mountains on Friday, April 17th - these storms always seem to hit on the weekend. NOAA forecast up to 50 inches of snow in the Front Range, although the exact elevation at which the weather would be snow vs, rain was questionable. In the end, a mix of rain, snow, hail and sleet bore down on Boulder for 3 days. Up just a tad higher near Ward and Nederland, they got more than 2 feet of heavy snow. Best of all, Winter Park got 36 inches of the white stuff from Thursday through Sunday morning.

For obvious reasons, Jesper and I decided to ski Winter Park on Saturday. It was the resort's last weekend to be open this season, along with most of the other major ski resorts. Winter Park had gotten the most snow in this mid-April storm, which mirrored last year's storm that allowed us a fantastic last day at Vail on the Saturday of their last weekend in 08. All day Friday the storm raged on and our plans for getting up to Winter Park, or any resort for that matter, went out the window. Pretty much all the main roads up through the mountains, I-70 and US40, were closed due to the weather, accidents and avy danger.

Plan B: We opted to go snowshoeing with Strelka on Saturday up in Peaceful Valley. The snow was deep and heavy, not the light fluffy stuff we are accustomed to. The trail had only seen one set of cross country ski track on it, so we were essentially breaking trail, Jesper going first to pack the snow down for Strelka and me following up. We tried having me break trail, but I couldn't pack it down enough for Strelka to avoid serious post holing. I guess I don't weigh enough!!

Strelka struggling while I tried to break trail

We didn't end up going very far in our almost 2 hour outing, but we sure worked up a sweat and an appetite. Strelka was such a trooper, uncertain at first about sinking into the snow. She slept well in the car afterward while we enjoyed a nice late lunch and beers at Mountain Sun.

On Sunday, we were not to be denied! We got up early for a relatively easy drive to Winter Park; the storm had blown out and the roads were all open. All the while during the storm, the resort did not open the Panoramic Express Lift, which provides service to the Parsenn Bowl. On Sunday morning, this entire terrain lay waiting for us with 3 feet of untouched snow! Jesper and I did a few laps under the Sunnyside Lift until the Pano opened. As we rode up the Pano, we saw skier after snow boarder and after skier flailing around in the deep snow. It was hysterical! Despite how excited they were to ski in all the new snow, a lot of people were clearly unprepared for the strength and skill level skiing in really deep snow takes.

Jesper and I fared better on our first run, but it was very challenging, especially in the completely untracked sections and on less steep pitches. Each run got easier, as portions of the slopes saw more traffic. We still found huge areas of untracked snow, but we tried to hit them only where the slope was steep enough to maintain speed. After a run or two, the entire area cleared out (all the skiers in over their head went somewhere more groomed) and we skied almost by ourselves.

I am desperately trying to insert another photo, but darn blogger has refused to let me do this for TWO DAYS - what the heck is up with them? For now, you'll just have to imagine what all that snow looked like!

All that heavy, chunky snow wore us out and I especially began to feel it in my feet (I have Plantar Fasciitis - ugh!), so we ended the day early and sat outside for an apres ski beer and some live music courtesy of 5-Toed Bob and the Stragglers. It was a fantastic way to end the ski season!

When we returned to Boulder Sunday night, all the snow had melted in the warm spring temps. Good Bye Winter!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Road Ride (part of getting back to normal)

The weather in Colorado in the spring is quite variable; cold and snowy one day then warm and sunny the next. We were presented with a couple days of the latter, to be followed by a couple days of the former. Jesper and I knew we had a brief window of warm and sunny opportunity to get out before the cold rainy and snowy hit later this week, so he yanked me away from my office yesterday at 3:00 to go for a road ride. It was sunny and almost 70.

I had been toying with going on a ride by myself and was envisioning riding up over Old Stage Road for a little bit of climbing - maybe a 1,000 feet or so. Jesper would have none of that! We were going to go over Lee Hill Road AND Old Stage, maybe a little bit up toward Jamestown too. A whole lot more climbing than I had originally planned. Realizing I had absolutely NO reason not to follow Jesper's plan, I agreed.

It felt good to spin the legs, even on the approach to the canyons, which is slightly and gradually uphill and into the wind. The ride started working out the sore muscles in my back from the back bends in yoga the night before. Before I knew it, we arrived at the steep part up Lee Hill; with grades from 10% to 15%, I was soon out of gears and standing up in the saddle, with little reprieves to sit down and grind. Jesper waited for me at the false summit partway up, proclaiming that I was climbing really strong! My climbing has definitely improved since I got the light, carbon Contessa with it's compact double drive train and a 25 in the back. I LOVE that bike!

While we were stopped, a little fox crossed the road, getting very close to Jesper. It certainly wasn't afraid of humans! We watched as it trotted off into the forest and then got back on the bikes for the last mile or so to the top. Somewhere along the way, our sunshine turned into clouds and it began to slightly trickle rain. We put on the arm warmers and jackets and were super happy with that decision once we started down Lee Hill toward Left Hand Canyon. Lee Hill had not yet been swept, so it was covered with the sand the road crews put out for traction in the snow and we took it slower than we normally would have. I hate having to brake on the downhills.

We hit Left Hand Canyon, where Jesper pointed his bike up again; more climbing as we headed up toward Jamestown. We ascended about 1 more mile before the rain became steadier; it was time to turn around. Left Hand Canyon had been swept, so we were able to bomb down it. I LOVE getting my Speed On on the road bike!

At the intersection of Old Stage Road, we had another decision point; ride up Old Stage for more climbing or stay on Left Hand for a flatter, albeit slightly longer ride home. Of course we opted to go over Old Stage! What was another 1,000 feet of climbing at this point? Despite my tired legs, I managed to stay in the saddle up until the end where the grade tops 15%. Toward the summit we encountered another fox, this one trotting along the road with several mice in its mouth. It stopped to add a dead piece of mousey road kill to its already full mouth and headed up toward the woods. I suppose it was bringing dinner home to a den of kits. We watched this guy, who was much bigger than the first fox we saw, for awhile before hoping back on the bikes.

The rest of the ride was DOWN until about a mile from our house. Our race back home on Jay Road with the wind at our backs and a 2% negative grade made me feel FAST! We arrived home to beautiful sunny skies, the rain we encountered now a dark smear over the eastern plains.

Our 29 mile ride took us 2:12, not bad considering our fox-watching breaks. According to my Garmin, we climbed (and descended) about 3,000 feet and I burned about 1,600 calories. A normal day for me! We're planning a mountain bike ride tonight, for another normal day.

Here's the profile:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Getting back to my new "normal"

My life has been a bit out of whack lately, the result being sparse blog posts.

My father died last month and between the visits home for the funeral and to help get his house in shape to put on the market, I have been gone a lot.

I miss my Dad very much. His death has brought my Mom's 1995 death back up to the surface. Lots of raw emotions. I am fortunate to have four wonderful siblings, two brothers and two sisters, I am tight with. We are helping each other get through this together. And then of course I have Jesper, who has been wonderful.

Things will go up and down as I continue to grieve, however, I am ready to get back to my new "normal". My father loved my blog posts, so I hope my enthusiasm to write them is renewed. Stay tuned.