Sunday, November 10, 2013

Good Feelings!

One of the big days of the year for me is our inventory day. When we get it done and especially when we get a number that everybody (that means corporate) is happy with, there is an incredible exhale and a general good feeling that settles in with me.
Got up this morning and being pretty nice out.....well, you can not waste days like this. So, in spite of some nagging home projects that we currently have going, I am saving those for crappy weather days and heading out!!
After a nice breakfast with Debbie I head up into the Park. I was a bit surprised by the traffic on a November Sunday but settled into a nice rhythm heading up the south side to Deer Ridge Junction.

Good view of Chapin, Chicita, and Ypsilon....and my transportation device.
There was a pretty good headwind keeping me working. I actually worked up a pretty good sweat grinding on up. I was thinking I would just go over Deer Ridge and loop back around to town but I was feeling strong so I kept going on up to Hidden Valley.
I got up where the snow is probably here to stay on the north slopes until summer.
The little creek that comes out of Hidden Valley was bubbling along and was a soothing sound next to the road as I pedaled along.
Rolled into the HV parking area and found a bench to sit and drink a Gatorade and just reflect on stuff. I am a pretty blessed person. I live in a beautiful place, have the health to get out into it, and the smarts to know that this is pretty special.
I throw on another layer and my beanie under my helmet for the rock and roll back down to town. It is nice out but it is November!!
In case it might snow this year maybe you can borrow this to clear your driveway!

A quick stop for a selfie! Check out that blue sky!!!
Short post here this week as I have some Broncos to go watch!

Everybody have a Great Week!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Just Because

I know, prolific bloggage from me! Two weeks in a row!
I was on the Saturday shift at the Lumberyard and when that was over it was a nice day so I just decided, "what the hell" might as well head out on my bike.

I did not have any specific destination goal, just roll on out of the driveway and see where Ogre might take me.
I headed out to the south end of Fish Creek road with the Homer Rouse Trail in mind.
Had to ride down through the ditch to get around this.
The temp was not bad out, about 50 deg or so. The wind had picked up blowing right in my face, as per usual right off Longs. But, it is the time of year that if it is warm you really have to get out and ride just because, you know, it is not going to last!
This has been such a strange fall. It is usually a time that allows some down time away from the busy work schedule of the summer. This year was a bit different as we had to wind it up for the months of September and October. I remarked to my co-workers how they talked about the Red Sox winning the World Series and how they get to have down time now and enjoy their success. We don't get that luxury to enjoy our success, nope just start over again November 1st with our sales and budget goals for the month. Ah well, it's the business we have chosen and it is all good!!

This is for you Richard, these boys finishing up their breakfast hay. Fish Creek Ranch under the specter of Twin Sisters mountain on a fall day.
I could not jump onto the lower part of the Homer Rouse trail because of the path of Fish Creek so I continued on up the FS road because I know it intersects again up higher. Eventually you can wind all the way up to Baldpate Inn and Lily Lake on the top of Wind River Pass which is the gap you see above on the far right.
I was grinding a bit as the road gets a little steep and the wind in my face and my cycle fitness has taken a bit of a hit this fall.
This has been part of the blah, WTF feelings this fall. I have some disappointment in myself for letting my conditioning to take a back seat to the other things going on. I like to keep my weight right around the clydesdale mark of 200 lbs, but I had creeped up to 207 with the lack of riding and some lack of discipline on eating habits and resorting to some comfort food eating. I know that I am not to be a "slave" to the scale and usually I am not, but once you have been chubby and then found the discipline in your past life to take it off, it "weighs" on you when you slack off. My ride last week up to Bear Lake was a real good wake up call to stop the "woe is me" crap and get going again. It was a good week to get my daily routine going again and 3 lbs fell off pretty quick.
Any hooo, back to the ride at hand. I got up to where the road turns up the mountain and connects with the trail and I found a washout.
It was about a 15 foot drop off and through the creek and then 15 feet up the other side, so, this part of the ride was over for me! Time to look for other stuff!
Here we go! Always gotta take a selfie!! I am pretty happy about a ride in November!
Worked my way back to Fish Creek Road and Hiway 7. I decided to run around the south end, Mary's Lake Road and into town. Debbie was meeting some friends at something called The Fall Back beer festival in Riverside Plaza. Pretty cool event with 7 or 8 Front range micro-brews set up in tents and a real good bluegrass band playing.
It was a $30 ticket to sample all the beers so I did not get in on that since I had to pedal back home, but it was a nice way to take a break, hang out with Debbie and listen to some fine music on a fine day!!
After about an hour I headed back home. Took the long way around up Fish Creek from the north end. There is one place where you have to detour up through the woods just a little, but you can get to the north side of Carriage Hills and then wind myself home through there.

This last picture just struck me as ironic. The firefighters will have a bit of a tough hookup if needed! This is looking back on the 17th hole of the golf course.
Wait! A post from me that does not have the obligatory picture of LongsPeak!!
I'll have to double you guys up next post!
Everybody have a great week and thanks for riding along!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bear Lake

It started with a small mechanical. I was riding Schwinn for my regular old lunchtime mental ride and I was noticing some trouble for the front derailleur to get up into the big ring. I kind-of made a mental note to myself to get that bike home and do some adjusting. As per usual I spaced it out and off I go on the next lunch ride. I'm about four miles out of town and it really feels odd. I look down and my left crank arm is wobbly and the bottom bracket is sliding back and forth. I limp it back to town pedaling with one leg.
This bike has an FSA Omega crankset with the threaded bottom bracket instead of the crankbolt. I know there is a technical name for this style but I just call it the threaded do-hingie. I get it on the stand and re-tighten up everything and think I'm good to go! I'm not even a mile into the next ride and it is all loose again....oh boy....bummer.
I get back home and this time take it all apart. There is a lot of trouble even getting the bolt out of the crank. You know when, with a sinking feeling, that  this is just not right as you force the bolt to turn out.

This is what I find.
Stripped! As I am doing some reading about these cranksets and how to install there is much talk about the torque on the bolts and to not overdo them....crap...why don't I ever read up about these things first??? Because I'm a guy?? There is a good chance I just over amped this the first time I tightened it up and stripped it. Fortunatly, FSA offers parts off their web site and I ordered two new bolts. Then the flood happened and it took a couple of weeks to get the bolts. I rode Ogre for those two weeks as my commuter and lunch rides and it sure was FUN!!!
I found some time to put it all back together last weekend. The crankarms went back on and looked to mesh up tight with the spindles that are on the bottom bracket. Thank you for not having those stripped and rounded over. Good thing I ordered two bolts. I thought I had everything all cleaned out on the threads but must have missed some stuff because as I threaded the new bolt in, about 3/4's in, there is that sick feel to it as it cross threads and strips. I will never get the thinking to have these aluminum bolts threading into a steel threaded bottom bracket. I know everybody is trying to cut weight every place they can, but c'mon, how much more weight really to have steel bolts? There was much fine wire brushing and flushing out with solvent by me on those threads until they looked new and clean. Some locktite on the bolt and with anxiousness I thread it all back together. My tutorial said to ride it and pay attention because you will probably need to tighten a bit on the first ride. I was also careful because of my first experience. Sure enough not a mile into a ride It was loose, but, a snug up and then about two more miles and then a little more sung up and I think I got it RIGHT!! A few more short lunch rides and no problems so I decide to head out for a little longer ride this weekend.
I have been meaning to do a ride up the Bear Lake road ever since they got the new construction finished. Off I go!
A couple of Aspen trees hanging on to their color much like I am hanging on to the last hope of a summer gone past.

Rolling up to the Park entrance had me working against a pretty good head wind that would stay with me all the way to the top.
I had this notion in my mind that the Park Service built this new road with zero consideration for cyclists and provided not even a shoulder. I found that there are sections that look like this
But there are plenty of the uphill shoulders that look like this
OK, time to stop worrying about the road and focus on the task at hand! My obligatory Longs Peak shot for all of you because that is what I have for you every blog!
On the north slopes there were some reminders of the snowy weather that we had about a week or so ago.
A spot to take a break a bit past Sprague Lake. I was feeling pretty strong for not having really pushed myself this fall on the climbing up into the Park.
Once you climb up past the Glacier Gorge parking space you know you just about have it knocked out with only one set of steep switchbacks to conquer. You are getting right into the base of trails that lead up to peaks. It is pretty up here!!
A little sit down at the top to eat my peanut butter sandwich and drain a water bottle and a Selfie!!
It is good to have confidence in your bike as it is time to bomb back down!! I just can't let it go because there are a couple of hairpin turns to get down those switchbacks, after those....away we go!!
I stopped for a picture of Morraine Park, it is a pretty special place with lots of memories for me.
This time of year it is great that a nice day happened to fall on the weekend so I can take advantage of it!
Hey!, Thanks for riding along with me!
Hope everybody has a great week!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Aspen Colors

I see that it has been almost a month since I have posted anything. A remarkable month of events and circumstances. For some people chaos is the new reality, for others, some minor inconveniences in their perfect routine lives. Like many communities we have an element of people that have a lot of money and get really upset when small things upset their lives, and the other side of the fence there are some young business owners that work really hard to have and build their businesses and homes, and have dealt with tough times to recover from flood waters.
For me? The flood was more of a mental exercise to keep a positive, move forward attitude. When natural disasters hit other communities, I watch on the news and feel so bad for the people affected and make the call to Red Cross and get a donation in, but, I have always had this arrogance in the back of my mind that "I live in the perfect place and nothing like that will happen here". That arrogance took a bit of a battering this last month. It does make me take myself down a peg and that is a sobering emotion to deal with. I have taken so much satisfaction with my crew here at Estes Park Lumber. They have worked hard to make things happen for people that need our supplies to get things rebuilt in their homes and businesses. We usually just motor along running our business for our customers but this last month there has been a feeling around here that we are really providing a service for our community. We work very hard at making sure our pricing is in line and competitive with national pricing and items are kept in stock through the complicated supply route into town. We sure have found out who our loyal venders are and really are interested in our business vs the venders that only did business with us because it was convenient for them. Noted for the future.

Enough about that sort of mundane stuff and onto the purpose of this post. Because of extra work and getting Debbie going back to work and her long stays in Greeley during the week, my bike time has been cut back. But, on Sunday I had a chance to head out to hunt down some Aspen Gold color watching, so off I go!
This is the scene on Friday. No commute that day! Pretty typical for Estes in the fall, a day of cold and snow and then the warm sun comes back!
I headed out on Ogre with the plan to climb up through Little Valley and see if I can get back into Pierson Park. I also had some curiosity of what had happened to Fish Creek Road. I had seen pictures but have not been down there to see it myself mainly because I had no business being down there. I rolled out my driveway and made it to the south end of Fish Creek. It was not to far down before I had to make a detour up and around a couple of roads in Carriage Hills to get around the road missing. There was a path walked out through private property around the cut but I did not feel it was proper mountain bike etiquette for me to ride across somebody's property.
The beaver damns and lodges that I have posted in the past going up Fish Creek are washed away. I hope the beavers made it through and are busy making new homes. I rolled on down to Little valley road. Aspen along the new Fish Creek are turning and pretty!
Working my way up Little valley their were groups of Aspen that were still green just starting to turn,
and some that were in full Gold status!

Of course the obligatory selfie of a guy out having fun on his mountain bike!

It turned into a beautiful fall day! I was a little overdressed at this point in that I wished I had shorts on, but so nice to be hot!
The views just keep getting better as you work yourself up to the top of Little Valley Road and it turns into National Forest service land. In fact, this is misnamed a bit I think. More like a climb up a mountain than a valley and there is nothing "Little" about it. Pretty steep road!
Nice view looking back
I chugged up to the top and here we are with a closed Forest Service gate. Normally they keep this road open until December 1st. I'm not sure if they have road damage above or if they just closed it so they don't have to think about for the rest of this year but I decided to just honor the gate and call it a ride. Plus the time was getting away from me a bit and I had a Bronco party to get to at Dave's house!!

Final view of Ypsilon Mountain from the top of Little Valley.

By the time I was back down and the few hills in Carriage Hills, I was gassed!! So really it was just the right amount of riding. It is always surprising how quickly you can fall out of peak riding shape. A month ago this ride would be hard but not leave me wasted back at home like I was today!!
I had a mechanical on the crank of my Schwinn that I am waiting on parts for so I have been riding Ogre as my commuter and what a pleasure it has been to ride. I guess that is the fun of having a few bikes in the stable so when you switch, it is like riding a new bike again!!
Hey!, everybody have a great week and Thanks for riding along with me!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pancake Motivation!!

A fall weekend is upon us and with no real projects or events planned I felt a return to my bike. There has been a bathroom project going on and a few golf events, my commitment to my bike and rides has been missing since I got back from my tour.
With the scottish festival in town for the weekend the American Legion has a big pancake breakfast. Mmmm....... I like me a pancake breakfast!!!!
But you have to earn it!!!
There is a big parade through downtown for the festival, it starts at 9:30 so I get an early start to get a ride before breakfast. I choose one of my favorite rides here around town, the loop up into the park over Deer Ridge Junction.
Got rolling about 6:45, still was cool out at 54 deg. Headed up for the north entrance of the park. So nice out early because I am out before the tourist traffic builds.

A pretty morning working up to the north entrance
There are still some flowers in the park doing their thing all blooming and stuff
Keep climbing up through a couple of switchbacks takes you to one of my favorite areas of the park, Horseshoe park. It is always so pretty how it opens up after climbing to the open meadow of a glacial basin.

I pull into the Sheep Lakes turnout and what do you know??? There are RM bighorn sheep! And no people!! I have the place to myself!
Ok, nobody around so it must be time to mess around with the self timer!!

One more climb up to Deer Ridge junction and when I reach the top you get the obligatory Longs Peak picture!!

Time to head down, back to town. I am hungry for a pancake plus I have to get through town before the parade starts!
Always a great ride, not long but a solid two hours on the bike of which 1 hour and forty minutes is spent climbing and 20 minutes for the blast off down to town.
I would have taken a picture of breakfast but I slammed it down!!  Trust me, it was good!

Everybody enjoy the rest of the weekend!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Paid to Ride!!

Is it one of your dreams and goals to be a paid professional bicycle rider? All "kitted" up and sleek like a wet seal, raging down the road on your carbon wonderkind bike machine?

For me.....fat chance!!! Not only because I'm a fat, over the middle aged mid-point, dude......but never had a draw to that. Plus if I ever was to be seen in a cycling "kit" I gave my family permission to sell my bikes and never allow me to ride again!!
 The athletic dreams of my youth involved being a NBA scoring power forward in the mold of Dan Issel or an Olympic skier in the mold of Phil and Steve Mahre. Unfortunately, at 6'5" 185 lbs, I was too small for the former and too big for the latter. And, more importantly, not enough talent and skill for either!!
Be that as it turned out, I sure like to watch and admire pro athletes that are at the pinnacle of their game no matter the sport. Well, true sports that take athletic skill, no counting ESPN make up sports like Bass fishing or hot dog eating. That's a whole blog in itself.
We get the chance to watch cyclists this Saturday as the US Pro Cycling Tour comes through our little town of Estes Park. It is a going to be quite a day here in town. They have all sorts of events to go with the race downtown including a stage for bands performing all through the day and a big tent set up sponsored by New Belgium Brewery.. The talk is about 50K people arriving in the area to spectate. They will blast right by the Lumberyard here coming down Highway 7. I am a bit of a big crowd avoider so I will not be downtown with all the beautiful people of Estes Park, and the Lumberyard will not be that great of a place to watch as they will be screaming downhill here....I am guessing hitting about 45 MPH as they go by here. Debbie and I are getting a strategy together for watching the race. We can walk out of our house and in about five minutes be on Highway 7. There is a little rise in the road right after the entrance to carriage hills so we are going to be at the top of that hill. The peloton will be going a bit slower there before the downhill into town and we will be able to see the riders for more than an instant.
If you are watching on TV, a couple of things to watch for from a locals perspective. The switchbacks after they go through Glen Haven is a pretty steep little pop before they zip down into town. There are points there for the climbers. As they come into town there is a sharp left turn and then they sweep in front of The Stanley Hotel. Then right down through the center of town. As they go west out of town there will be a sharp left turn onto Mary's Lake Road. This is a steep but short climb up to the high point of the route. If somebody attacks on this uphill they could hold a big advantage because after that there are miles of major downhill after that. As they head back down the Big Thompson Canyon at the bottom there is a section called the narrows. Tight turns with rock walls on one side and the river on the other and they will be blasting along here. Exciting stuff to watch for! They cut up through Masonville and up into Horsetooth Reservoir. There are are a couple of short but steep climbs there that will allow some strategy by the teams. All in all a great stage, 117 miles of varied terrain. Enjoy watching!!

As to the original prospect of getting paid to ride.......I always envisioned for me, the opportunities would lie in some sort of career as a bike taxi, or one of those dudes at sporting events shuttling people in from parking lots. A real Glam Job!!
But today, I got paid to ride!!!!  Sort of.
I have been needing to get out to the YMCA and take some pictures of their new entrance sign that we provided materials for. Our log supplier guy wanted some pictures for his portfolio. So I took my lunchtime ride out there.
A good way to spend the work day!!
Hey! Everybody enjoy the last of summer!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 3 Tour 2013

Time on the Bike-6hrs 18min

Shut Down......
This was a tough day. Some days are like that when taking on a bike tour.

Started the day early again but it had a different feel to it. That last hour against the head wind had taken its toll on me more than I thought. My legs were slugs this morning.

Heading out of Buena Vista to the west on Cottonwood pass road was a medium steady incline for the first 5 miles just to get out of the open ranch land and back into the mountains. It played the total mental head game on me. You start to question everything. You take inventory of every little ache and pain your body is sending your brain. Every little squeek and click from the bike plays on your thoughts of "what's wrong, what's gonna break"....

I think Mount Princeton is an impressive and intimidating looking mountain. The visual centerpiece of the Collegeiant Range.

I was really pounding the water because I was having some leg cramp issue, so that meant a bunch of stops. I got to grinding on up. This was the steepest road as a total package that I have ever been on. Richard, think Heartbreak Hill, followed by a half mile of incline followed by Heartbreak hill. About the fourth time that happened I was reduced to "hike-a-bike" status. I can ride Trail Ridge and never have to hike-a-bike.
Your mind really works you over when hike-a-bike is your world. All sorts of solutions to the non-fun that is occurring go through your head.
I drank up almost all my water (two big quart bottles) and I have been out here almost five hours. I was still five miles and four switchbacks from the top. Decision time. I decided to turn back and head back to Buena.
Disappointed? Yes! In myself? Yes! Regrets? None at all.
 Cottonwood Pass had kicked my butt. I was talking to a couple that were riding their road bikes up and were just about cooked themselves where I had stopped but were going to still try for the top. It was a huge coast back down but I was still butt and leg weary to just get back to town.
Since I have ridden the road south out of Buena Vista on a previous tour I decided to just end this trip at this point and start planning for the next trip.
This trip had some issues before I started. Some self-imposed guilt about going with some busy time at work and many un-finished projects at home. To take time off on a selfish bike trip just did not feel right. Pile on that I was not having any fun.......the road will still be there and the bike is not going away. There will be a better time.
So....still a good few days of riding; time on the bike. Time in my head to continue the quest to be a better person.
I was glad to have had the opportunity to be out here!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 2--Tour 2013

I forgot Stats on yesterday's ride!
Miles= 54.67
Time on Bike= 6hr 41 min
And Today's Stats
Miles= 64.79
Time on Bike= 6hr 58min

Today had a nice early start because I was asleep by 8:30 last night!
I headed up out of Frisco towards Copper Mountain on the most excellent Summit County bike trail system.

The downhill traffic was very busy because there was an event going on, The Courage Classic for Children's Hospital. I knew a few people from Estes that were riding in it and sure enough, suddenly, there was Mark and Patti Donahue! It was so fun to see them and spend a few moments talking.Everybody that was zooming downhill were so kind and thoughtful of the big slow rider heading up. Giving me room and shouting back to other riders.
I think ski areas in the summer have a fascinating look of beauty and imagination for your brain.
After riding past Copper, it was meat and potatoes time. Heading up the first steep part of Fremont Pass.

Hey! It's just not an official tour until you have laundry hanging off your bags to dry in the sun!
There were a lot of stops for this rider to catch my breath and leg recovery. I played the little game of picking out a landmark to ride to for breaks. Just get to the end of that run of guard rails for the next break. There was a club of road riders from Durango that were riding up and then back. Whenever two or three would pass they really piled on the encouragement. And I was so jealous when they passed by zooming down!!
Fremont pass has always been so interesting for me because of the history and the ongoing mining.
On one side of the road you have the heavy hand of man, the ongoing clean-up of mining mistakes made in the past.
And on the other side, Surly looks upon unspeakable beauty
Best part about this pass is, it is super steep for the first 7 miles or so, but then it is flat for some rollers on the top. I love the info stops that give you history of the area. At one time, over 50,000 people lived on this mountain to take the rich ore out or worked as piggy back industry. Richest square miles at that time in the world! Billions of dollars!
Now Climax Mine corporation owns it all and whether you agree or not with the industry, (that's a discussion for a different forum!) they are taking down a mountain and making it disappear.
Anyway, back to the ride! Got my traditional top of pass picture before the plunge down to Leadville.
What a pretty view just starting the west side of the pass
Zoomed along to Leadville. If you have never visited there, it is a cool place. The History, both mining and the fact that it was the cosmopolitan center of Colorado for many years is fun to look at. I could never live's at 10,000 feet folks, not much summer, A LOT of winter. Architecturally these building are precious to our history.
After a nice lunch, I just had to slog out the remaining 30 miles to Buena Vista. Actually a nice ride on a gentle decline.
Not a barn, but an old building ready to be crushed by a big snow!!
I was cruising along nicely until, about seven miles out of Buena Vista a big wind came up in my face. Oh My! Took me an hour to knock out that last bit. Left me pretty wiped out and the thought of setting up my tent in the wind and listening to it flap all thanks! So I wimped out and a motel for another night.
Maybe I am just not cut out for the camping thing after a day of riding. I should make up my mind so I don't have to carry the extra weight!!
Good to get good rest because a big climb tomorrow morning!!

Thanks for reading everybody!!