Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight...

It's been far too long since I last posted on the Blue Sky Blog. It's been a really crazy busy time for me (and I'm guessing for many of you cyclists out there spinning your wheels). I guess better than creating a lousy summary statement of what's been going on in my not too terribly thrilling, broken bone prone life, I thought I would bring up something important to me about cycling here in Boulder County.

In my secret life, when I'm not sporting the red, white, blue and black attack of my BSV kit, I live a dark underlife of suspense and intrigue as a board member for BMA (Boulder Mountainbike Alliance - yes, I know "Mountainbike" should be two words, and yes, I have tried to change it, but the forces that be have thwarted my attempts many a time until I caved).

This part really isn't that important. It's what I learned in my book "how to write humorous blogs and what to do when you're just not funny" is called "background". Ahem, as I was, I am serving on the board of BMA. What is BMA? Well, if you weren't aware, it's the mountain bike advocacy organization for Boulder County. That means that people who are members of BMA build trails (when the government (from here forward, know as "the Man") says they can) and talk to all of the people who make the decisions about where trails are and what they are used for to try to get more riding trails.

Okay, I promise, we're almost to the important stuff here... crack another cold one, or if you are riding your bike and reading this on your iPhone (oh please say it ain't so), shift into a really high gear and grunt for a second.

This year has been personally tough for me. I have had a lot of setbacks and I have had to challenge myself some days just to get up and get going. I have worked my booty off trying to start a civilized conversation with some people who simply do not wish to discuss what the future of cycling in Boulder is going to be like.

My background is in both ecology (MA in Biogeography, BS in Ecology) and Business (MBA in Sustainable Business). I feel strongly that if we are going to move into a future that is free of fossil fuel (most people now seem to think that this is an inevitable as the smell of Greely on a warm day) we need to plan on a lot more people on bikes. Also, I see kids these days riding the wii instead of a BMX bike. Needless to say their increasing backsides still don't cushion well against those boxy controllers when they try to mount them and that people who don't get out into nature don't really appreciate it.

My work this summer has been trying to get trails that allow people to ride from town to out of town, but still be in open space. It's been really hard. I had to wear dress pants and a nice shirt a few times - that's how hard was (although I did wear spandex underneath to stay in touch with my true nature - and for some extra support which is always nice on a rough day). I spoke a bunch of times to people who would listen and even more times to people who wouldn't listen.

Here is the important part... really...

There are several issues coming to a head right now in the Boulder area that deal directly or indirectly with biking and I really could use the support of our "Nation".

First, the County Ballot Issue 1B. You've probably heard something about this already unless you don't read the Daily Camera or Longmont Times-Call (have to say I can't blame you if you don't - man, the public comments make me cry).

Basically, the County has used up it's money to buy and do cool stuff with open space. If you're like me, you're probably thinking stuff along the lines of, "Dang, I lost my job this year and I haven't been able to find more than a few hours of tutoring to pay for a new set of tubular wheels. Why the heck do I want to pay more money for open space?" Well, you might not be quite as underemployed as me, but I'm sure you get the idea.

But, here's the deal: I talked with the head honcho at County Open Space (aka "the Man" Open Space) - Ron Stewart, and he said that one of the main targets of this dough would be to purchase a place called Gold Hill Open Space. You might recognize the name as it's been damaged by the Fourmile Fire. They have to get this land from another government agency and as part of the deal THEY HAVE TO PUT IN TRAIL ACCESS. This area would be like another Hall Ranch only further up in the mountains and it would be open for hiking, biking, bird watching and probably lolligagging.

The other big thing that they want to get ahold of us a property along Hwy 36. The current owners can't afford to keep it and it's zoned so that it could be more than 250 homes. If you ride 36 and look off to the east between Nelson and St. Vrain Rds., you are looking at "the Leukonen Property". The County is trying to pick this place up. If they get it, several things are going to happen. 1) There won't be a huge bunch of homes, 2) The Man has said that putting in a "regional connector path" is a possibility, and 3) the land will stay in agricultural or ecological use in perpetuity (sorry if you were hoping for a new Wendy's on your riding route). Also, if you live in Longmont, this is an area that would change your view from rolling hills in front of the foothills into homes in front of the foothills.

Wonder where this is? Click on this link:

Here is a view of the area looking from Hwy 36.

I am reaching out to you, the Blue Sky Nation, and asking you to support cycling through this ballot initiative. If you spend $100, you only pay a tax of 15 cents (that means that if you spend $10 on a burrito and a beer you could plunk down one penny and then with your massive strength, cut another one in half and leave that behind and it's what you'd pay for this tax). Heck, if you threw down some massive cash and got a shiny new Yugo for $10,000, you'd only be paying $15 for open space.

I do feel strongly that Boulder County has become so beautiful because we have done well in preserving our land. Our quality of life an property values reflect that (for reference, feel free to drive to Brighton to our east and check it out). Seeing the Leukonen Property turned into homes, I feel, would be a blight on an otherwise wonderful scenic ride along 36 (especially now that they've covered the chip seal with tar).

Also, if you vote for it and come tell me, I'll give you a beer. No joking. No kidding. I'll give you a beer (or a soda pop or fruit drink beverage bag with a straw if you are a teetotaler). Really, you could even lie if you want to and I'd drink a beverage with you and I'd be cool with it. Believe me, I really need to relax after this summer. Just come tell me next time you see me and I'll get you a cold one. Honest. Think of the economics! One beer is about $1.50. That means that I just covered all the tax you would have to cough up for $1,000 worth of purchases!

If you don't believe in this proposition, I understand. My only request is that we can all be in a state of Fonziness* and not be mean to each other!

* Fonziness - being like or of the Fonz. Cool. See Arthur Fonzarelli.

Oh, and if you've read this far and just wanted something that didn't have to do with local politics, here is a video clip I took of a Bull Snake doing an impression of a Rattlesnake. Bull Snakes aren't poisonous, but their way of scaring of predators (or skittish hikers) is to imitate a Rattler - complete with shaking tail. But, unlike their poisonous cousins, the rattle noise comes from some tricky breathing, not rattles on the tail.

Oh, and here is a picture of some of the rangers and staff from around the state of Colorado at a an open space conference I went to a couple weeks ago. We all went out and rode the Centennial Cone (in Jeffco). Most of them really kicked butt - even in their silly ranger duds! So, one bit of advice - if you are on the trail, unlikely you could outrun the Man! :)

Seriously though, they were really nice and had lots of great things to say about riding around the Front Range!

Hup Hup everyone!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

CX Clinic 2 - Amy Dombroski rocks!

First off, let me just get this out there ..... Amy Dombroski (no 'W'!!) is our new BFF.

Once again Amy offered up a great cyclocross clinic today, as only she can. The weather was perfect with not a cloud in the sky. Mad props also to Paul McCarthy for getting the gang together and organizing.

Come on people, wake up! Its time to get crossy ! Here Paul has his hand up because Amy asked who's a brown-noser.

It was a great turn out today ....... and a new location out at Redstone Park in east Longmont. It was off the hook at the park with football games and soccer, but we found some un-used nooks and crannies to get our game on.

It was great.... young and old, first timers and old hats... Amy dished up something for us all.
It was great to see some old friends .... love how CX will bring us all out of the woodwork.

Amy's great with working with people at all levels.
Skillz, skillz, and more skillz. Practice makes perfect people!! "Your skills don't thrill, need to do drills!" Lots of drills. On the bike, off the bike. Pick up the bike, put down the bike. Pedal fast, stop and turn around stuff. Ride your bike, lay down in the shade ... oops that last one wasn't one of them.

"Find something that works for you - then perfect it!" She makes it sound so easy.

In this picture you can almost see the cloud of knowledge flowing out of her head into ours.

Here's she's saying "I saw Dave dancing with his bike like this.."

Its great to get the full knowledge of someone who's raced at the highest level, all over the world. And its great because she's so down to earth and grounded.
Anyone else see the theme in these shots that she's the only one tough enough to hang out in the sun while we all cower in the shade ?
The CrossPropz portable barriers put the icing on the cake!! Thanks to Paul for bring an entire gaggle of them!! It helps so much to have those sweet break-aways (or we'd all have cut shins!). Doing tons of mounts and dismounts sure got my heart rate up, and showed I still have a few off-season cobwebs.

So after lunch, after too many chocolate chip cookies, it was GAME ON! Relay fast starts happened. Then "last man standing". Then ... the dreaded ... hot laps. All riders mano a mano. Each lap the slowest one heads to the shade to chill and heckle, while everyone else keeps going until there's only 3 people left. Oh my I guess I have some work to do on my fitness!!!!

Unfortunately, she forgot to go over the "don't make contact with the ground with your head" rule early enough, and we had one small casualty. I won't name names but luckily the skull in question is a thick one :-) Feel better ________!!!!

"Remember People, don't be a SQUARE! Cyclocross Rulz! Get crossy!" **
** Not actual quote from Amy, she's not that dorky

To follow Amy D. or find out more about her, go to her website!!

ps. quick shout out to Steve Capstick who could not attend, .... we were going to have him on the jumbo-tron via satellite uplink to monitor us ... we couldn't get a live feed :-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Steamboat Stage Race - Race Report

First, I would like to thank all of you that were giving me words of encouragement over the last week for this race. It meant a lot and I really appreciate it.

I used to live in Steamboat, so this was a special race for me. I have never done a stage race before, so I was a bit nervous going into this. I didn't know how I would hold up over the 4 days of racing. I have been feeling pretty good lately, so I had set some high expectations for myself which added to my nervousness.

My Goals:
1) Put as much time into the skinny guys in the TT as I could.
2) Don't get dropped

The opening prologue was a fairly short rolling 10k that did an out and back along the Yampa river and then finished with a short climb up Mt. Werner Circle. I was fairly confident going into this one as I can usually do well in a TT. I went as hard as I could and ended up 6th overall (22 seconds down). Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Marabou Circuit Race-
Marabou Ranch is a private community and is not open to the public except for this race and one of the town challenge mountain bike races. I had never been there before and there was no elevation profile posted, so I had no idea what to expect. I knew there was a climb, but I had no idea how steep or long it was. I was able to park pretty close to the course and I was watching other racers laboring up the hill to the start/finish. I don't pretend to be a climber, so at the last minute ditched the 11-25 for the 11-28 I bought for the Centurion. Good call there as I would later find out. On tap was 6 and a half laps of a 4.5 mile loop. The first lap was fairly mellow while the group scouted the course. With each lap, the pace seemed to increase a bit. The first few laps hurt and I found myself really having to dig to stay in contact over the climb and then descend like a banshee to catch back on again. The descent was really fun. The roads were perfect and you could really hang it out if you wanted to. The last few laps felt a bit better and I was still in the front on the final lap. On the final climb, all hell broke loose though and I lost a few seconds. 14th on the day and I dropped from 6th to 9th on the G.C. Still pretty happy that I was able to hang with the leaders though.

Here is a short video from the local paper. You can get a bit of a feel for the course.

Road Race-
When I used to live here, I did have a road bike, but it got limited use due to the world class Mountain Biking Steamboat has. My knowledge of the Road course was pretty limited, so I didn't really know what I was in for. Ignorance is bliss as they say. On race morning, I felt okay. A little stiff from the circuit race, but not too bad. The weather report said it was going to be windy, but I had no idea what was in store. It is never windy in Steamboat, so I didn't pay much heed. My race time was at 12:20 and as the morning progressed it was starting to get "Boulder Windy". At the start, the wind was blowing really hard. It was going to be a long day. A big thanks to Eric Scroger for wishing me luck at the start! The pace started out like all cat 4 road races. Pretty manageable for the first half of the race. The biggest issue was the wind. Guys that were rolling the deep dish wheels were all over the road. There was no where to hide either. You would get in a good spot and then the road would turn and you would be taking the brunt of it. It seemed like we had been riding a long time already when I looked at my computer an we had only done 15 miles. uh oh. Finally, we approached the turnaround/feedzone area and it was chaos with everyone trying to get more water. One guy in the pack asked if negative humidity was possible. The moisture was literally being sucked from us! As I fumbled around trying to get a bottle in my jersey pocket, the pack was not slowing down. I had to bury myself to try and catch back on and then there was a big acceleration climbing out of there (see profile below) that spit me out. I had a bit of company though and 4 of us worked together all the way back in. We kept picking off guys that were getting spit out along the way, so we were going at a good pace. Still, 4 can't keep pace with the main group in that wind. I was just happy I had some guys to work with. The last 2 climbs were brutal. I just wanted to be done. I ended up losing 11 minutes and change. My G.C. hopes were done.

Downtown Criterium-
My start time was at 8 am on Monday and the temps were supposed to be near freezing. When I woke up, it was in the low 40s but still a bit breezy. No problem though. Downtown, you are sheltered from the wind and I like it when it is cool. A little embrocation and I was good to go. The group was a bit smaller today. Either some guys decided to get a jump on traffic or the buzzards got them in the Road Race. The Crit was really fun. There was a bit of a power climb up 4th Street and then a long decent all the way down Pine. For the whole race, I felt pretty comfortable at the front. It was going to be about position at the end. On the last lap, I thought I was in a good spot coming into the last corner. However, someone cut the corner in front of me and I had to hit the brakes or be taken out. It was now a drag race all the way up Oak street. I passed quite a few guys, but the gap that opened coming around the corner was too much to make up. I ended up 9th on the day and 20th on G.C.

Here is another video with some crit footage.

Overall, it was a great event and I would for sure do it again. Hopefully, next year we can get the crew up there for a strong BSV showing.