Sunday, June 21, 2009

2009 Ride The Rockies

Carolynn and I finished up the Ride the Rockies tour yesterday. It was a great ride and we both enjoyed ourselves despite some troubling times along the route.

Day 1: Glenwood Springs, CO to Hotchkiss, CO. Being Carolynn's first time out in Colorado, I did not know what to expect from her and the high altitude. Day 1 started off easy enough with the first 30 miles only rising 1700 feet up to aid station 2. The next 9 miles to the next aid station would be our first big test - the climb up to McClure Pass The last 3 miles of this climb is a real bastard rising from 7500' to 8755'. We just about failed this first test and actually had to stop two times for Carolynn to catch her breath. I was doing fine, but she thought she was going to pass out so we stopped. We finally made it up and after a rather lengthy stay at #3, we got to enjoy a nearly 10 mile descent (actually we dropped from 8755 to 5300 in over 43 miles, but we did have some small climbs along the way). Carolynn was freaking out as we started to plummet down the mountain because all the other tandem teams said things like "I can't believe you don't have a drum/disc brake on your tandem. Those V-brakes are going to burn up...." What they didn't know is I had no plans of using the brakes :-)....well I actually did hit the brakes some. Our top speed was 55 mph. We could have been in the 60's if I did not keep her in check. We were passing riders like they were standing still. Fun stuff for sure.

Needless to say, by the time we finished, setup our tent, showered (after standing in line for over an hour) and ate we were both ready for nice nights sleep. I can tell you this, I was ready for the ride, but not all the snoring folks that camped by us. A little bit of advice for anyone doing this ride. Get a hotel or be sure to bring something to drown out all the noise from the snorers.

Day 2: Hotchkiss, CO to Gunnison, CO. Another 80 miler was in store for us today. Carolynn was not having a good day from the get go. No sleep due to the snorers and this lady who had some serious issues. She was either snoring, farting or coughing all night. Another good climbing day with the first 35 miles being mostly uphill - 5300' to 9000'. After we got some food in us, both Carolynn and I actually started to have a great day. My knee was not hurting that bad today. I have been having some issues with my IT band, but today things were good.

What views we had of the Black Canyon. Truly breathtaking. We both really enjoyed this day the most of all of them. I could have spent all day on the ride with the sites we had. Add in about 20 miles of downhill and rollers and you have a great day. The last 25 miles of the ride to Gunnison was nice due mainly to a mostly tailwind and we hooked up with a couple of tandems and got a nice paceline going.

After not getting much to eat in Hotchkiss due to them running out of food, we decided to take the bus into town for dinner. A very nice dinner with Salmon and pasta. We ate with a interesting fellow that I met while waiting for a shower. He was actually not part of the ride, but was just tagging on with us for a few days as he road across Colorado. When I first saw him I actually thought is was my teammate Garet Steinmetz. I come up to him and start talking to him like he is Garet. Funny thing is I did not realize it until about 20 min later because he acted like he knew me also.

Day 3: Gunnison to Salida. One word describes this day: Shitty. Monarch Pass was in the route for today. A brutal 9 mile climb up to nearly 11,500'. Add the climb, the fact that my knee(s) were really hurting today and that Carolynn was just about as worthless as "tits on a boar hog" and you get a truly shitty day on the bike (yes, sometimes it is better to be at work than riding a bike....). Two 80 mile days in the saddle and no sleep had turned Carolynn into a 130+ pound dead weight that I had to carry for most of the ride. She had nothing in her legs today - the hardest day of the tour by the way. The worst part was that she had mentally given up and wanted to take the SAG wagon. At add station two, which was at the foot of the climb up Monarch Pass, things were not looking good. What do you do when your teammate wants to give up and you want to continue on? Let me tell you that it is very hard to try and "motivate" your spouse to do something that she just does not think she can and stay married at the same time. After a rather long rest stop of over 30 minutes, she finally agreed to attempt the nearly 3000' climb. I am proud to say that she did not give up and did what I asked - Just try it, you never know what you are made of unless you try. It took us about 3 hours, but we made it. Yes, we stopped several times for Carolynn to catch her breath. She was having a really hard time breathing, but she kept going and I am very proud of her. The 23 mile downhill run to Salinda was well worth all the effort. Again the old Duet handled the descent like a champ. We cruised between 45 mph and 58 mph for the first 8 miles until we caught a long train of vehicles and had to slow down some until we worked our way around everyone. It is quite funny to be passing cars on your bike. I wonder what they are thinking when they have a bicycle come flying pass them?

Here are some pictures until I get the energy to recap our adventure.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Colorado Bound for the Ride the Rockies

Carolynn and I are off to Colorado for the Ride the Rockies Tour. This will be Carolynn's first trip out to Colorado. She has never climbed any mountains nor ridden at altitude. Hopefully we did enough training to prepare for the climbs. I am personally looking forward to the descents. A 375+ pound bike can really get hauling down those mountains. Carolynn said we can not go over 50 mph. I am going for at least 65 mph so I can beat my personal record of 62. Don't worry honey, when you ask how fast we are going it will be 49 - what you don't know will not hurt you...

I have spent the last month going over every bolt, nipple and bearing on our Burley Duet. She is basically brand new and looking sweet. I also put on a new set of Ritchey Slicks. I really like them so far. Let's hope they hook up well descending Black Canyon.

We finally figured out how we were going to transport the beast to Glenwood Springs. Thanks to Dave Wathen, we converted a motorcycle carrier to a tandem carrier. It works great. Check out the sweet bracket that I made.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Maddening Bugs

There I was sleeping like a baby. All curled up next to my cat Corky. Then one of my worst fears comes true. Corky jumps up and starts to swat at my ear. A few seconds later I hear a buzzing noise then creepy little feet walking down my ear canal. For a second there I thought I was dreaming as I got up out of bed. But I was not dreaming. Something had crawled up in my ear.

I started to panic and yelled for Carolynn to help me. The critter that was in my ear was trying to burrow its way out of my head. This was quite maddening to say the least. If you ever want to torture a person or get them to tell the truth, put a bug in their ear. They will fess up right away.

Carolynn could not find anything in my ear and asked if I wanted to go to the Emergency Room. I usually avoid such places, but I did not hesitate in answering "Hell Yes". I learned one new thing about Carolynn during the drive to the hospital. She cannot drive, especially under pressure from a screaming mad man with a nasty old bug in his ear. I few times I thought for sure we were going to crash.

We made it to North Kansas City Hospital a little past midnight. It did not take very long until I was being seen by the doctor. At least that is what his badge said he was. However, after digging into my ear for over an hour and causing me all kinds of pain, I do not think he was actually a doctor. At least he was able to kill the bastard and give me some ear drops that helped a lot with the pain. I was instructed to go home and visit an ENT in the morning when his office opened.

Great, go home and sit in bed with a critter in your ear. I still wanted to know what the heck was in there. The doctor could not tell what it was. All I did was think of Bugs in the Ear and movies that I had seen.

I did get an early appointment with the great doctors at Midwest Medical Specialists. Within 10 min the doctor had the beast out and my ear all cleaned up. Turns out I had a nasty old cockroach in my ear. After trying to figure out where the cockroach came from, I came to the conclusion that it was from Christopher's suitcase that he had just put in my room. The same suitcase that was in Florida a few days ago. I pieced the little dude back together and took a picture for your viewing pleasure.

One word of advice. I you do find yourself with a bug in your ear, you can use mineral oil to kill it. A few drops with in the ear canal with stop all that buzzing, biting and scraping. I sure wish I would have known this jewel of info last night....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ironman Training

has begun...

Well I've decided to try another Ironman distance triathlon this year. I have completed 5 of them over the years, but at each one I have suffered total meltdown. One of the items in my "Bucket List" is to complete an Ironman under 11 hours. Sounds easy enough and if you look at my splits for every event I should finish in the 10 hour zone. But like I said, something has gone wrong at every attempt. Hopefully my "experience" over the last decade has taught me something and I can finally cross that item off the list.

My first Ironman distance event was the Great Floridian. My days of racing motocross were coming to an end due to a number of reasons, including my little brother John getting injured. I still had a desire to be active and found this new sport called Triathlon. I sucked, but I was having a blast. I saw an advertisement for this new event in Florida that would be the "Ultimate Challenge" I signed up for the 1st Annual Great Floridian the next day. I went from the sprint distance, which were very popular in South Florida, to the Ironman distance. I set out to train for this event, but really did not put in the proper amount of training. I thought a couple 50 mile bike rides and a few 10 mile runs would be enough training. WRONG I was. I suffered like no dog has ever suffered. Especially on the bike. The course was long and we ended up doing around 129 miles for the bike leg. I remember looking down at my old Avocet 15 and seeing 112 miles and knowing that we were no where near the transition area. It was really, really, really hard to finish that event. But nearly 17 hours (yes it took me that long) later, I did finish. After a couple of IV's was already thinking of next years event.....

I have a little over 100 days to train for the REDMAN Triathlon. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

First MTB Rides

What do you do when your son is away for a week? If you are like Carolynn and I, you ride. Such silly people we are....Friday we headed up to Smithville to ride with Sara. This was her first time riding off-road. She doesn't have a mountain bike, so Rich Anderson was kind enough to allow her to use his Schwinn Homegrown. When we arrived she had already ridden some and actually got "scared" of the rocky terrain on Lakeside. I can see how this could be if you never rode before.

I can remember Carolynn's first mountain bike ride. It was down at the old "K-mart trails" in West Palm Beach Florida. Year was 1993 I think. She used her new bike that she had won selling insurance. It was actually a nice bike for the day. Heavy as hell, but I thought it was cool looking and had balloon tires that could be used for off-road riding. Carolynn had zero background in cycling before we met and it showed as she bounced off all the "paper" trees that were so common down in that area. I think she hit every tree out there. Those trails were great for the day. Heck, they would be cool to ride now. Needless to say she survived, but a new rig was in order. I built up this nice Trek mountain bike frame that I got from Joey. Mounted a new set of XT shifters and all the new parts that I had lying around (yes I have always been a bike parts whore). One of the next rides was in Tampa, Florida at Wilderness Park. What does she go and do? Crashes in a sandy corner and breaks my brand new XT shifters. She still can not ride sandy trails.....

My first mountain bike ride on single track? Heck, I don't really remember. I must of crashed really hard and hit my head on that day :-). I do remember buying my first mountain bike back around 1985??? Joey and I were working up in Orlando Florida at my dad's warehouse. At the time it was retro-fitted into a nice repair shop for our truck fleet. We decide to get some bikes to help train for motocross. We did not know anything about bikes other than how to break em'. We checked out out the few shops in town and ended up buying some of these new things called "Mountain Bikes". Both were full rigid with old Suntour groupo and had these things called toe clips on the pedals. I got a beautiful bright yellow full steel chromoly Jamis. Joey got this green looking Ross (or maybe it was a Raleigh) bike. This thing was so sad looking. I did not say anything at the time, but I just knew that with the rake of the front fork that it was going to break on the first jump. Sure enough, we hit the local BMX track and while putting in some hot laps Joey snapped his bike. I never laughed so hard in all my life.

Back to Smithville...I decided to give the knee a rest from riding so I opted to just run with them. The first few miles I easily kept up with them on the MTB bikes, but once we hit the 4 mile mark I started to feel the total lack of run training in my program. As I was following them I could hear Carolynn yell some instructions to Sara. It was funny hearing her tell someone else how to ride. I kept my "instructions" to myself. I don't do a good job of conveying my thoughts sometimes and did not want to confuse her. Overall Sara did very well. We just need to get her to relax and flow some. Remember, momentum is your friend and as for the fear inducing rocks, there is a good line through them if you know where to look.