Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Great report from Jose. I'll add my 2 cents and photos.
I drove down in convoy with Kevin and Isaac and arrived in Tucson on Thursday. We unloaded the trailer, did a quick spin in Tucson, and settled in for the first official ride on Friday.
Day 1: El Capitan, Kevin, planned a series of rides for us, and even posted them to MapMyRide and provided printouts of the routes. I just got a Garmin 705, so I loaded the map onto my GPS as well. Friday morning's ride, Pistol Hill Loop, was designed to be a relatively easy 55 mile loop to get the legs in gear before the tough stuff on Saturday and Sunday. Barry was considering doing the loop twice since this was his last day, but as you probably already read in Jose's post, his plan was not meant to be, and he and Mike headed back to the hotel.
The loop took us to Saguaro National Park, but since we opted to not pay the $5 fee, we just got some water and took some team pics in front of the cacti, and headed back to the hotel.
Kevin had been raving non-stop about In-N-Out burgers 'what fast food should be', so 4 of us (not Kevin/Isaac) drove over in Dancel's party bus for some fast food. I had a couple cheese burgers and fries. Yumm. After naps, dinner and some more chilling, we were down for Saturday's ride.
Day 2: Saturday's ride, The Shootout, is an almost legendary local ride, where up to 200 Tucson riders and often visiting pros show up to duke it out for about 30 miles, then head back. Kevin mapped out some additional miles to stretch the ride up to 97.8 miles, with an option to turn back after the Shootout hill for a little over 60 miles.
We got a late start, and missed the actual 'Shootout', but continued on the same route anyway. Once we got away from the start at University of Arizona and out onto the quieter roads, we settled into a paceline going slightly uphill with gradients from 1 t0 3%. The weather was partly cloudy and cool this morning, decent cycling weather. After passing over the Shootout hilltop, about the halfway point for the 60 mile loop, the group opted against the 97.8 mile version, and started to head back to Tucson proper. We definitely winged the directions a bit, which took us a roundabout way back. What originally was supposed to be just over 60 miles, grew to 70, then around 80 miles. As they say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.
This lunch time around bus driver MikeD decided to choose his favorite fast food fix, Chik-Fil-A, next to the In-N-Out burger place. So we climbed into the rental van again, headed past Tucson's myriad strip malls, to snarf down some chicken and fries.
Add in some naps, more rest and relaxation, and it was time for our dinner. We walked over to a Mongolian BBQ place in the strip mall next to the hotel. After we each of us took multiple trips to the buffet, we had our fill. On the way out of the Mongolian place, I noticed there was a cardboard box with lemons on a table by the door with a sign reading, "Free Lemon's". I didn't know what to make of it then.
Day 3: Next up is Mt Lemmon. If the world give's you free lemon's, uh, er, make Mt. Lemmonade? Okay, that was bad. Mt Lemmon, 5500ft of climbing in 20+ miles. What more could you want in a climb. Here is a profile of the Mt Lemmon climb below:
The plan is to roll out from the hotel for about 25-30 minutes to the base of the climb. The climb starts out pretty gradually before ramping up to averages of 5% to 6% most of the way, with some steeper ramps from 7% to 10% in spots. The plan is to make it to Summerhaven at mile 25 for some pie at the Mt. Lemmon cafe. If you keep on going all the way to Ski Valley, you can add in a couple more miles at average grades of 10-11% Yoiks!
Jim and Mike got a head start on us and left early so they wouldn't be too far behind us on the climb. It's funny because Jim only had an 11-23 cassette on his road bike when he got to Tucson. On Saturday, he bought a 12-27 and he put it on the night before. With the new cassette, Jim was even considering riding Mt Lemmon twice?!
Kevin, Isaac, Jose, Paul and myself rolled out promptly at 8am. Once we hit the start of the climb, Jose went off the front to get his legs warmed up, but we regrouped a few miles later. Paul dropped off to ride his own pace, so 4 of rode on up the climb from then on. We were passed by a bunch of local riders, including a guy who was 72 years old. Impressive.
We eventually met up with Jim and Mike around mile 12, who were still looking good, but we kept pressing on. The road got even steeper by mile 16, and Isaac and I moved off the front for a bit. We took turns taking pulls until about mile 18 or so, when Isaac dropped back. I expected him to catch back up, but I assumed he must have gone back to the group. I hammered ahead, and was excited at mile 20 to get some actual downhill sections. After a few more miles of rollers, I made it to Summerhaven.
I waited at the Mt Lemmon Cafe and fully expected Isaac and crew to come in a few minutes later. Even though it was sunny, it was chilly, in the 40's. I tried calling them, but I couldn't get a call through up in the mountains. I didn't know that the crew and decided to turn back around mile 20. So I ordered some blueberry pie from the Mt Lemmon Cafe and chowed it down. With a full gut, I climbed back up and out, and took some pics on the way down (see below). After descending the climb and before getting back to the hotel, I ran into MikeD and crew in the van who came looking for me. That was nice. I managed to ride back to the hotel by myself.
This was my last ride of the trip, so I decided to relax by the pool before dinner. I saw Jose down there too reading a book and chilling. Here's Jose in full relax mode:
Kevin arranged for a team dinner Sunday night at the Italian place, Zona 78. Good food and good times where shared over dinner. For me the training camp was nearly over, while the other guys had a couple days left to ride. I had a great time and some good memories to last a long time. I also got to know some of the other Blue Sky riders a bit better over this brief vacation, especially my roommate Jim. Thanks to Kevin and crew for planning this great trip. Sign me up for 2010.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The book is officially closed on the first ever Bluesky cycling camp in Tucson, AZ. What a very cool time it was. Some old friends, lots of new faces. The end result.....good friends and stronger cyclists.
Day -1: Barry and Mike Dancel arrive and set off camp with an 80 mile ride. Things were mostly Ok except that Barry forgot sunscreen and Mike forgot who he was riding with.
Day 0: Jose joins the fun. With Tucson being such a huge sprawling town, there are few options for us so we choose to preview Mt. Lemmon since Barry won't make the actual Mt. Lemmon day. 20 mile climb with 6000ft of climbing in that stretch. How was it? It all depends on who you talk to. Barry: blistered the pavement with his pace. Jose: not too bad...just a 5% grade climb (and I didn't do the previous day's ride). Mike: back sore, legs sore after previous day's ride...hate climbing! But he stuck it out and did a darn good job. Day's mileage: 50 miles.
At this point, a trend is starting: wake up, bike, back around noon, shower, eat lunch, nap, eat dinner, hang out a bit, sleep, repeat. A hard life!
Later that night, the Abraham/Dancy/Scroeger wagon arrives with killer trailer and bikes on hand. Now camp really starts:
Day 1: This was supposed to be a day for the travelling folk to loosen their legs.
Today we went to Saguaro National Park. It was an easy ride. Here, some people are missing. I'm taking the picture, Mike is getting water, Paul hadn't met up with us yet. But where's Barry? Barry had a bit of a mishap. He woke up not feeling well, but still tried to ride. He made it 10 miles from the hotel and turned around. Something about a fever or something? I don't know. I don't know why he didn't shake it off. What's a 101deg fever? Certainly can still ride with that! Oh well. He missed out on all that saguaro cactus and Kevin doing his Will Farrell skits for us. 'Snowcone, Snowcone?' Day's mileage: 50 miles
Day 2: So we have some photos of the moment before the ride, but none for the ride since we were planning to do a local group ride. Today was to be the 'Shootout' Ride. I should add that at this point, Kevin and Isaac are not at the hotel. They are in some house with 3 kids, 2 wives and a mom....one big happy family. The point here is they have to ride to the hotel to meet us. The shootout starts in downtown Tucson--about 8 miles away--at 7:00AM. Kevin and Isaac show up at 6:45. Do you think we made it to the group ride? I should say we tried, but it was not to be. That was not gonna stop us from riding the shootout route.
Some mean hombres lookin' fur uh fight!
Day 3: Mt. Lemmon...take 2! This time it's for real and it's personal. No pictures, no stories. Just 20 miles with 6000ft of climbing. There was some word that there was some town at the top where you could get pie. Did I get pie? No. Did Kevin or Isaac get pie? No. One of us did though and he totally earned it. Way to go Eric!!!! Day's mileage: 60 miles
Day 4: Recovery day through Saguaro National Park....Snowcone, Snowcone? Snowcone anyone? Day's mileage: 50 miles
Day 5: Out west through the other Saguaro National Park.
Need food....and sleep
I didn't get any naps this whole time!!
OK...one last time kidz!
Today's ride had a 'little' bump in the road. Here are some pics of that....
Whose legs are fried? Who is sunburnt? Who is over trained? Who had fun? Who would do it again?
Later that night, we pack up the trailer and call it a camp!!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Brad - keeping the legs warmed upMichelle & Jenny - chattin' up the members before the ride
Can't wait to see all of you again soon! With 70 degree weather, can anyone believe it is still the end of winter? -Michelle Vercellino
Friday, March 13, 2009
After hearing the 'argument' quite a few times in the past (sometimes accompanied by a shout, a middle finger, and/or an empty beer can - but I digress) that 'cyclists' somehow don't pay taxes, and therefore are not supposed to be using state roads, I decided to do some research. See, I had a nasty hunch that vehicle registration fees are only a small part of the Dept. of Transportation (DOT)'s overall budget.
So here goes... for LOTS more info please see this link.
Quick history: all registration fees, gas taxes, and tons of other stuff are collected and managed in the State Highway Users Tax Fund, so you'll see that mentioned below.
The entire budget for DOT for 2008 was ~$1.1 Billion.
Of that, the State Highway Users Tax Fund only accounted for 39.3% of that.
Now, the State Highway Users Tax Fund is broken down into many slices of pie. The biggest two are: (and this is proposed for 2009 i think)
- 68% Fuel Tax
- ~32% 'Other' (This includes registration fees and 'other')-couldnt find exact breakdown, so we'll use this entire figure just to be conservative.
So, taking this slice of the pie 32% of our original 39.3% of the entire budget now leaves us with 12.8% of the entire DOT budget.
Moving on, lets assume that 75% of bicycle owners also own a vehicle of some sort (trucks, cars, motorcycles, airplanes). *I cannot find this breakdown, so this is my guess, I would love to find info on this, but I don't think its tracked
So taking our assumed 25% of green cyclists (and therefore assuming that 75% are out of the picture because they own a vehicle and ARE paying registration / license fees), we'll take 25% of our 12.8% of the DOT budget and are left with:
These rogue cyclists, who don't choose to own a vehicle are only affecting ~3.2% of the entire budget.
But wait! we're not done. These people *could* contribute by way of Park Fees, Gaming Licenses, or Sales and Use tax.
So lets just for arguments sake say we're down to 2.5%-3% of the entire DOT yearly budget being affected by these malfeasants.
So we're really whittling down the actual people out on the roads who have NOT contributed to the DOT budget, and therefore are justified in using the state roads.
I guess I should NOT attempt to stir the pot and point out that many of our fine car/truck weilding co-inhabitants have allowed their registrations to lapse, or don't have all vehicles registrations up to date (howz that boat trailer doing back behind the garage?).
Where do we go from here. Well, I ask a few things of our closed minded redneck fellow Americans and residents of Colorado.
a) SHUT UP! The blather coming out of your mouths is spewing about an assumption thats incorrect approximately 97-98% of the time. (or you could say what you're saying is 97% just plain wrong)
b) Say what you really mean!!!! If you DO feel compelled to yell, drive really close to trying to scare, and love to generally assault cyclists, at least give us the courtesy of saying what really bothers you about us. Get it off your chest, let us know what you're really thinking. If you like how our clothes fit tight, and yours are to baggy (and you're worried about your buddies picking on you), say so. If seeing others excercise causes you to have low self esteem about your beer gut, please yell that. Perhaps its because our bikes are shiny and your truck needs a paint job, don't know.
Its only fair.
See you on the road ......
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This afternoon while riding her bicycle north on 75th near Hygeine, Jenny Hettich and a friend were yelled at and buzzed by a driver of a pickup truck. Ironically this occurred while they were riding plum in the middle of the bicycle lane.
The driver did bring up a valid point when he yelled, "I pay the taxes for that bike lane!"
Ok, everybody who also pays taxes raise your hand. . .
In other news, Colorado state tax collectors say they will be investigating these claims that cyclists don't pay taxes. Joe Smarty of the Colorado State Tax Department released this statement on Thursday:
"I had no idea that all of these people riding around on those bicycles weren't paying taxes. This is an embarrassment to all of us. We will be pushing for prompt legislation to make cycling illegal in Colorado, in order to increase tax revenue."
Mr. Smarty declined comment when asked if this would affect cyclists on recumbant or tandem bikes.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
SRAM becomes title sponsor of New Mexico's Tour of the Gila
SRAM has taken over title sponsorship of New Mexico's Tour of the Gila stage race, which begins this April 29 in Silver City.
“SRAM has given this race security for the next several years and, with their increasing popularity in the peloton, we can only anticipate growth for our event. And SRAM’s professional neutral race support, along with their great team relationships, make them a perfect long-term partner,” stated Jack Brennan, Tour of the Gila Race Director.
“Despite the tremendous grass-roots support for the “Gila,” the event was facing some financial challenges, and we wanted to come onboard and give the race a secure place in the calendar for the next several years,” said David Zimberoff, SRAM’s Global Marketing Director.
The Gila leader's jersey will now be colored in SRAM’s trademark red color.
This is great news for the race, and I think we should face east and say a big thank you to the boys and girls at SRAM HQ in Chicago.
I've been doing the Gila for quite a few years, and SRAM has been there in the past at the crit with neutral wheel support (i actually got a flat in the crit last year, and their help allowed me to stay in the game and finish 4th on the day). However, it's awesome to hear that they are not only stepping up to support all the stages, but supporting the race financially too.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Cleanliness Aidan can believe in!
Now that spring is upon us and Daylight Saving has begun, the opportunity and call to ride is upon us. So as we dust off the old bike shoes and head out into the hills, what in God's name is that creak in my bottom bracket? How come my wheels are out of true? Why won't my bike shift into that 11T cog?
The number one thing you can do for the quality of your riding this spring is to bring your bike into Blue Sky Cycles for a high-performance tune-up. Many of us would prefer to whip out some rags, crank some Bon Jovi, and spend a weekend wrenching it up. But with the good weather bearing down, work piling up, the weekend hours are in short supply. More often than not I just let bicycle maintenance go unanswered because I don't have the time.
Well, with the Tucson trip around the corner, my errands list growing, and my sleep hours dwindling, I decided to bring my bike and Jenna's bike into Blue Sky Cycles. After 12+ years of avid riding, it was the first time I let a shop do any amount of appreciable work on my bike.
It was worth every penny! During a high-performance tune the shop basically takes your bike apart, soaks the drivetrain in solvent, and puts it back together again. I've been racing hard on my Ultegra groupset for 2+ years, and as you can see, it looks like new again!
I also had a potpourri of requests of things I have not had the time to address, and the shop dutifully noted them and took care of it. This included lubing Jenna's Speedplay pedals, checking my hoods for even height, and replacing worn chains.
The performance tune includes all new cables and cable routing. And yes, if your cockpit doesn't look like this, then you're doing something wrong.
By the way, year 2 of the PowerDome experiment is going swimmingly. The cassette is still looking new after more than 5,000 miles. No Shimano or Campy cassette will last that long and weigh this little.
The tune-up also included some things that I had not expected. The tension on my wheels was checked (and corrected). Both bikes had new handlebar tape installed (never underestimate the psychological boost of new bar tape). And, because I wanted to keep training this week, the shop let me schedule the work ahead of time so that the bikes were AWOL from my garage for the minimum amount of time.
In short, do yourself and every compatriot on your group rides a favor, and bring your bike into the shop for a little spring cleaning.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Bob and I headed North on Friday, leaving Boulder at 51 degrees F. By the time we reached Cheyenne, it was 17 degrees, dumping snow, poor visibility, cars sliding off the road, etc. We discussed turning back, but decided we'd turn back if I80 was closed (guess we really wouldn't have much choice then now would we?)
At Rawlins, things cleared up and we made it to Jackson, WY by midnight (that was our goal). Skiing- well JH mountain has vertical like no other US mountain. We enjoyed that, but I was disappointed because the previous weekend we skied so much white fluffy stuff at Wolf Creek that anything but pure powder would be a disappointment.
Well, we weren't done with wolves yet. We headed back to Boulder Monday morning. Of course it started to snow, and was expected to continue snowing all week. There's a belief at Jackson that when Bob Prieto goes there, skiing is ok, but when he leaves, it snows...needless to say, everyone on the mountain was glad to see us depart...no really, Bob lived there and people still remember him.
Driving through Hoback Canyon, just South of Jackson Hole, I yelled at Bob to stop the car! There in the middle of the frozen Hoback River stood the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. With no cars around, I jumped out and attempted to look more closely. The wolf looked back then casually trotted up the hillside a bit. He stopped looked at me, then trotted a bit more. Thankfully he wasn't in a great hurry, yet he definitely didn't want to stop and have tea with me either.
I returned to the car, shaking with adrenalin from the excitement of fulfilling a lifetime dream!