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Riding for Life

This blog is intended to give me an area to share my thoughts and experiences about Mountain Biking, Training, Racing and just generally about life. I'm hoping that my friends will use it to keep a pulse on some of the things that I (and we) are doing.

Updated: 2018-03-07T12:19:30.232-07:00


BreckEpic - Stage 1 Results


So I've waited 6 months for the BreckEpic and it's finally here... I can't believe it, all the hard work, the countless hours of training & preparation have all come down to this week. 6 days of back to back racing. I've never done a stage race so I'm anxious to see how I do over the course of this week.

Today was the prologue or the opening stage of the race. This was to be a 9 mile - 3,000' climb. The problem with today (in everyone's opinion) was the fact that the stage didn't start until 3PM... which here in Colorado is the prime thunderstorm window. True to form, the storms started at about 1:30PM, some lightening, fog and sheets of rain coming down.

I got staged to leave the timing tent at 3:44:30, each rider (or pair of riders) left at 30 second intervals en route to the 12,000' level on Mt Baldy. My friends and I arrived at Carter Park at about 2:45 in the cold rain. We were geared up for the worst.
Just before I started the climb, the rain quit, the sun came out and it got nice. By the time I topped out about 49 minutes later the rain had just started again... we really got lucky with the weather!

Unknown to us, the race director made the wise decision to cut the race short and stop it at about 11,100' on Baldy and keep people below tree line and hopefully out of harms way. We didn't know about this change until we were within about 1/4 mile of the revised finish line.

My friends Mike and Tim are racing as a team and pulled off 2nd place in the Men's Duo - 80+. The 80+ means that the sum of their ages is greater than 80.

I managed to secure 6th place out of 13 riders in Men's Solo 40+ but 2 of the riders Did Not Finish (DNF) so it looks like we are down to 11 in my field already. This showing isn't great against my competition but this short format doesn't suit my strengths of going long so I'm hopeful that through the week that I'll hang in there long enough to pick up a spot or two. This is a tough field of guys so I'm now hopeful that I can survive to Friday.

A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words


(image) So it has often been said that a picture is worth a 1,000 words... I got a kick out of my most recent bike maintenance episode and thought of how funny things in my life really are. I have to laugh at myself.

The photo below is of the worn out Continental Tire, they named it the Slash. I have ridden this tire to the point that I think I've gotten my moneys worth out of it, it's become a racing slick with nobbies on the edges. For contrast the new Slash...

So I retired the old Slash, mounted a new Slash and had a (little) Slash... life really is funny.

Mt. Evans... Hill Climb


(image) I've been wanting to do the Mount Evans ride for a long time and I've never driven up this way but I finally decided to go get some altitude training and get a good hill climb in on Mt. Evans. This mountain boasts the highest paved auto road in the nation. The parking lot at the top is at 14,130'. I started at the ranger station which is about 14 miles below. According to my altimeter I climbed about 3,500' over about 14 miles.

I used this ride to get some light power work in but my legs were feeling it from the day prior so I didn't push really hard (big gears). What I did do to keep this a bit more challenging was to ride my 575 mountain bike which weighs about 30#. It has nice 2.3" fat, nobie tires on it so I let out as much air as I dared to give me the greatest rolling resistance as I headed up the hill.

Now anyone who knows me or who follows this blog will know that I'm all about a challenge... so armed with my 575 with semi flat tires, I started up the hill with the intent of catching and passing road bike riders. My other goal was not to let anyone catch me or pass me.

I caught several roadies about 1/2 way to the summit. I got a kick out of one guy's reaction as I slowly passed him... we both said good morning and hello and as he got a look at my trusty 575... I heard him mudder... 'A mountain bike???!!!, you have to be kidding me!!!'.

It took me almost 2 hours to make the summit and about 45 minutes to come down. The road was covered with snow in spots up top and it was wicked windy and bitter cold, I'd guess it to be right around freezing. I didn't stay long up top, just long enough to take a couple of quick photos, put on a jacket and head down the hill to toward a pizza at Beajeaus in Idaho Springs!

If you are ever in the area, bring your bike... or just drive to the summit, it's worth the views!

Crosier Mountain - Climb and Descent


I'm now 2 full weeks out from the ERock race and I'm feeling pretty good, I feel like I'm recovered to about 85% of normal. Chad and I met in Loveland and head up towards Estes Park but we turn off towards Drake to do a ride on Crosier Mountain. Chad is familiar with this ride and has hiked it numerous times. This is my first time on this one.

As Chad described this ride I was a bit concerned that I'd have the legs and lungs for it. This thing is a very steep climb with little or no rest spots and it is quite technical. As we head up the trail I am reminded how Chad doesn't exaggerate, this is hard but I find myself having a ton of fun. The technical sections are very challenging but I'm clearing a lot of them and feeling very good about myself. Chad, always the technical guru is having an equally fun time.

The top of the climb is mostly unrideable so we carry and push our bikes up the last 1/2 mile so that we can get the super technical downhill on the way out. After checking out the views of Longs Peak and Estes Park we head down to the trail intersection and continue down a different trail than we came up. Chad hasn't ridden this one but he has hiked it and it in his words would be 'wicked technical'... again no overstatement.

We have a great time working our way down the trail, it's slow, requires balance, strength and stamina. Chad had one crash that I'm not luck enough to witness and a small tree took the brunt of his fall. After about 5 minutes and swallowing hard several times Chad is back on his bike and we are on our way again.

The total ride was only about 13 miles but the vertical gain and decent was a good solid work out. We can both feel it in our upper bodies, wrestling these bikes around takes it's toll. I am very surprised that I feel really good, I'm a bit worked in the legs but overall am pleased with how the body is doing.

Rest & Recovery... A long, slow road


Everyone knows what it feels like to over do it. We have all been sore from doing something in excess or something that we hadn't worked our way into. You know what it feels like... your muscles are sore, they ache and you are stiff. Typically you are sore for about 3 - 4 days, the second day is the worst and you improve a lot on day 3 and are back to 'normal' within about 4 days total.Well, endurance athletes are no different than anyone else but we train our bodies to be able to go for very long periods of time and to recover from that and be able to do it all over again within a few days or even over night. What I'm referring to is the day to day recovery that we experience when we are training. What is very different is the fatigue and muscle tissue damage that occurs after a race effort like the 24 Hours of ERock.I'm not sure that I can explain what it feels like to go through a recovery after a huge race like this one but I'll attempt to give you an idea of the ordeal that all of us go through. Immediately after finishing the race I drink a 'recovery drink'. This drink isn't a cold beer but it is a special blend of protein, electrolites and carbohydrates. The idea is that your body is most receptive to this perfect mix of nutrients within 30 minutes of stopping the activity. The body will use the protein to rebuild damaged muscle and the carbohydrates will help replenish the liver and cell glycogen stores.I use the recovery drink after nearly every ride of any intensity or duration. I look forward to it and I can tell you that it is one of the best things that I have ever discovered to help improve day over day performance. After this race, I headed home to shower and eat and then to get some much needed sleep. Dinner consisted of 2 cans of plain tuna, pasta with a bit of cheese and garlic sprinkled on it along with some fruit. I like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, they are easy to eat and have lots of good stuff in them to help the body recover.You may think that I'd have slept from 930pm until noon. I didn't and was up at 06oo after a fitful nights sleep. The body is still so amped up and isn't ready to shut down and rest properly. I'm careful to keep hydrating with plain water and I make a HUGE omelet type thing with broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, salsa, cheese and what ever else I can find to throw into it. I basically ate a full 12" skillet full of food and washed it down with about 1/2 gallon of coffee.I then attempt to do my normal stretches which would take me about 15-20 minutes. I lay on the floor and it takes me 1.5 hrs to get this simple task done. I'm exhausted. At about 0930 I start eating again and I never really stop all day, it's a constant parade back and forth to the fridge and pantry.According to my heart rate monitor I had burned about 16,000 calories during the race. I know that this is pretty accurate. I also know that I took in about 7 - 8,000 calories during the race. You can't replace calorie for calorie what you burn during exercise because you will bloat like a dead rodent on a hot road. Your body can only take about 1/3 of the calories that it is burning. The good news is that even the most fit athletes with the least amount of body fat still have fat reserves to go staggering distances so long as they are getting the supporting nutrition that will allow them to burn the fat and not canalize muscle tissue.I'm sore but it isn't that 'normal' over use sore that I described above. It is a deep rooted fatigue and soreness that you can feel in your bones and in every fiber, ligament and joint. It isn't a debilitating soreness just a terrible fatigue. So Sunday was basically a wasted day of eating and laying on the floor staring off into space. I did manage to unload my truck of most of the race gear and get things a bit sorted out and into the wash. I would normally do a 'recovery' ride which is simply a very low intensity spin while monitorin[...]

2009 - 24 Hours of ERock - Solo Race


First an apology... I have not done this race wrap-up nearly as quickly as I had hoped and I know that I've disappointed a lot of folks by not getting it done sooner... the reasons are numerous but the lack of a product is still the same.The 2009 - 24 Hours of ERock mountain bike race is now in the books. The race started on Friday June 5 at 1830 and finished at 1830 on Saturday. All week and the weeks proceeding we had periodic heavy rain and severe weather. Everyone was relieved when the forecasted weather for the race was supposed to be good.I set up my pit area at about 1300 on Friday afternoon. I was able to secure the same spot as last year which is conveniently located immediately next to the timing tent and just off the course. The course is a 'nothing spectacular' course. It starts on the old state road which is a mix of sand, and hard packed sand, it climbs 500' total and descends back to the start/finish. Each lap is 8.25 miles long and it is considered to be nontechnical (meaning no obstacles to negotiate or difficult climbs or descents).I will say that the views are really tremendous, Pikes Peak being fully covered in snow against the green grass and trees is truly inspiring. Additionally, the wild flowers were in full bloom... really something to see.This year would be different for me as I would have a crew to support me. Last year I was entirely on my own, it made a difficult race even more so. Chad his wife Kim, their two girls Leslie and Lynn along with Beth (Chad's sister) came from Fort Collins to support me. I have often said that solo racing is best done as a team and this proved to be true even more so this year.The crew's job is to manage the affairs in the pit area. It is a wildly boring job of hurry up and wait followed by managing the rider and bike as he comes into the pit. Getting the rider to tell you what he needs can be very challenging especially as the hours drag on, the miles add up and exhaustion sets in. This is a statement of the obvious but the crew really must think for the rider, anticipate his needs and be ready for any issue no matter how trivial. In addition to providing the rider with water, fuel, bike maintenance, clothing changes etc they gather and report valuable information on the number of laps turned, position of leading and challenging riders. They also gather very important information on what the other riders look like, are they fresh, worked, surviving, highly motivated etc. All of this plays into how the rider responds to the challenges on the course. The crew plays a critical roll in strategizing how the rider should respond, or not on the course. The weather at the start of the race was great, probably around 70F with the typical breeze from the south. Breeze in this sense means a wind of (I'm guessing) probably 10-15 miles per hour. The air in Colorado is typically very dry and this day was no exception, I think that I could feel the moisture being pulled out of me. My lips were constantly dry, cracked and painful. So my strategy was the same this year... start last, be consistent, ride my own race and never ever stop. I did sit down 3 times during the race, all 3 times were to make quick clothing changes of fresh socks and shorts and to remove leg warmers. Also, with the problems that I've had with my back over the last week I knew that if I stopped and cooled down even a little bit that I risked the back seizing up. This point cannot be over emphasized, this latest back issue was terrible. Dr. Joel at Well Within Chiropractic had worked on me every day except Thursday this week. We also worked with Alysia from Time To Heal Therapies to help sort out the knotted mess created by my misalignment, over use and old trauma issues. Between Dr. Joel and Alysia they were able to get me pushed, pulled and rubbed back into shape enough to at least get me to the start line. After that I would be on my own except that Dr. Joel put himself[...]

Gut Check


I've just had a real gut check. All of us are human, frail and subject to illness and injury. It doesn't matter how fit or unfit we are there is always a risk of injury or illness. Somethings could potentially be prevented, others can't.

I've had some great training rides this last week. Big ring climbing, excellent descending, road and mountain rides. I've spent time riding with people who are very talented and gifted athletes. To be able to swing a leg over the bike and to ride the same trails and roads with these folks is a great privilege to me.

My first gut check came when my friend and I were witness to a terrible auto accident that we think left someone dead. My friend's statement was so simple and clear... you never know, life is too short...

So the second gut check came this morning after my normal routine of getting coffee & breakfast and some light stretching. While I was sitting at my desk my lower right side of my back started to spasm and seized up. If you have had back problems you know what I'm talking about, it's the kind of pain that is absolutely debilitating. It takes your breath and won't allow you to sit, stand or walk, you are kind of frozen in place unable to move.

All I could think of is the 24 Hour Solo on Friday this week. I called Dr. Joel at Well Within Chiropractic, he got me in before he opened for his afternoon sessions. He carefully worked on me and gave me instructions of icing etc. I'll see him again tomorrow so I'm hopeful that he can get straightened out before Friday. If anyone can help me, it is Well Within Chiropractic. Thanks again to Dr. Joel and his excellent staff! I'll see you tomorrow.

Life is Short... Enjoy the Ride

Count Down to the 24Hours of Erock Solo Race


It is Sunday morning May 31st and I am counting down to the start of the 24 Hours of ERock on Friday June 5th. The race will start at 18:30 on Friday and end at 18:30 on Saturday evening. I'll be riding this race solo again this year.I have high expectations of myself for this race. I am also feeling the pressure of knowing that there are many interested people who will be watching and waiting to see the results of my efforts. Quite frankly I am a little nervous, I had great difficulty during last years race especially over night with the worst abdominal cramps that I've ever experienced on a bike. This course while beautiful and has views of Pikes Peak and the front range gets boring as you continue to turn more and more 8.25 mile laps.Endurance racing is not only physical it also relies heavily on the mental toughness and commitment to pushing through difficult periods of pain, suffering and feelings of self doubt. I cannot tell anyone why any of us do these races I suppose, in part, that it is a sense of accomplishment of doing something that most people won't even consider. There is also an endorphin high that comes with participating in these long events.Here are answers to some questions that I get asked frequently:Why would you do something like this?Answer: I can't easily answer that question... see above.Doesn't your butt get sore?Answer: It can and it will however with sufficient training you build up a tolerance to long hours in the saddle. Clothing selection plays a significant roll in how well or poorly the body tolerates the hours in the saddle. We all use special cycling shorts which have a built in pad that greatly helps in transporting moisture (sweat) away from the skin and helps cushion the sit bones of the pelvis from the saddle.Do you ever stop? Do you get breaks?Answer: This race is run through a pit area each 8.25 mile lap. I'll stop after each lap hopefully just for a few seconds to get another water bottle and more fuel. A racer may stop as much as they like but any time spent stopped is wasted. My strategy is 'never stop' which means I'll spend as little time as possible stationary. A slow lap is better than no lap.What do you eat?Answer: I'll use a blend of liquid fuel and electrolyte supplements from Hammer Nutrition. As the race progresses I will use some solid food like bananas, bagels, fruit, pretzels, sliced turkey, etc. I don't eat much solid food but it tastes good as the race progresses and helps me feel more satisfied than the liquid fuel does.When do you eat?I eat (or as we say, 'fuel') on the bike. I have small bottles called flasks which have my premixed liquid fuel in it. I'll also grab solid fuel like part of a bagel in my jersey pocket and eat it on the course.Do you have a crew to support you?Answer: My definition of a crew is a person or people who can think for you when you are in the pits. They will fix issues with the bike, tell you lap positions, help make strategy decisions, make sure you are eating and drinking and generally help you get back out on the course faster. Asking someone to give up essentially 1/2 of their weekend, stay up all night and sit around for 23 hours with little to do while they spend 1 hour actually 'working' is tough to do.So for this race officially no however, the Well Within Chiropractic team of Dr Joel and his wife will be there for some time. I do have a friend(s) who are fellow racers who will check in on me from time to time. It is really nice to see a familiar face and a warm friendly smile when I enter my pit area.What are the other racers like?Answer: Mountain bike racers and riders are notoriously friendly and helpful. Often we are encouraging each other on the course. We will give out tubes when someone has a flat, tools, advice and help when another racer needs it. I can't tell you how nice it is to get passed by another rider who simply says 'G[...]

Riding In The Draft


I sat in the back of my truck (which has a shell on it) watching it rain. I was in the Tabegache parking lot just south of Grand Junction, CO it is Memorial Day Weekend. I was contemplating my weekend and good fortune to have just missed getting caught out in the rain again. I met my friends Mike and Megan from Jackson, WY for the weekend in Fruita. Mike and I were to ride and Megan and their dog Lilly could take advantage of the trail running opportunities. We camped in the Colorado National Monument National Park. It has wonderful red rock cliffs, sandstone spires and views that are outrageous. We were stuck in a weather pattern of rain showers and thunderstorms. No matter, we were together and having fun. We rode the Tabegache area and got caught in a huge rain storm. Mike and I hid under an overhanging rock to wait out the deluge. We witnessed a flash flood in the drainage below us. What had been a dry wash, became a raging torrent of brown water in about 10 minutes. We were relatively warm and protected so it was kind of fun just to witness the weather in this desert environment. In the evening we spent time fixing bikes that had parts ruined by the mud. We can't have a fire in the National Park so we resort to cooking over charcoal and then sitting around the grill to stay warm. The two canopy tents sure came in handy with the torrential rains that we got.The next day the trails were way too muddy to ride so we set out on a road bike ride on the mountain bikes. We were set on doing the 37 mile loop throught the park. We headed down the hill, through the 2 tunnels and to the valley floor below. From there we rode towards Grand Junction and the east entrance of the park. As we climbed steadily to the park entrance our intensity increased and we started to work harder. The total verticle climb is not much, only about 2,500' but we got most of that rise in about 4 miles so it was a good effort and steep in places.We were on a training mission, we were working together taking turns 'pulling' or leading up the climb. It is interesting on a climb that the rider in front works hard and the other one has a mental break and can fuel and drink before taking the lead again. On a climb, it's all mental, taking the lead or following but it works none the less.We crested the worst of the climb and really dropped the hammer both of us wanted to catch and pass riders on road bikes. Road bikes are way faster than a mountain bike with the same rider on it so it was a big challenge for us to do... set your sights high. As the terrain became less severe our speed increased dramatically.Cycling is not well understood by most people who aren't into it.... I'm no expert and am learning as I go. Riding a bike fast is really difficult, it may look easy but it is far from it. As your speed increases the air resistance becomes an enormous factor. This is where riding in the draft becomes necessary, working together becomes absolutely critical. In general terms riders in the draft will require about 30% less effort to maintain the same speed as the lead rider.You will see the draft used in auto racing, it is a critical component to any sport where speed is a factor. In cycling, the rider or riders in the draft can 'rest', eat, drink and relax until their turn back on the front. Two riders can be way faster than a single if they know what they are doing, the more riders the better because you get to rest longer in the pace line. The following rider must stay 'on the wheel' of the next rider. There is a zone of disturbed air that you must be inside of in order to be 'in the draft'.This zone of disturbed or 'dirty' air requires that the bikes be within at least 12" of each other, the closer the better. This is where skill and trust are paramount. The lead rider must pick the line to ride, avoid obstacles and be smooth. The followin[...]

Training In The Rain


So today's ride was supposed to be a 3-4 hour effort in Indian Creek with a night exit using a helmet light. It started to rain very lightly this afternoon but not to be deterred, I headed up to Waterton Canyon only to be turned away at the gate by, well... the gate with a big sign on it stating that the canyon road and parking lot were being maintained... bummer!!

So the next closest ride was Deer Creek Canyon... back in the truck and 15 minutes later I pull into the parking lot which has 5 or 6 other cars in it. Perfect, I think, no traffic to contend with on the trail. Rain in Colorado sends people inside... we don't see much rain so most of us don't know how to act when it does.

If you follow my blog you will notice that I am very cautious about wet conditions and mountain biking on wet trails. The reason that I avoid the trails when it's wet is that the tires tend to break down the trail surface when it's muddy so I just don't do it. Trails are too hard to come by and too hard to repair and maintain to treat them badly. Today I felt like the light rain would have little effect on the trail surface, I was right the tires didn't have any affect on the trail surface.

It had been about 2 years since I'd ridden this single track and I forgot what I had been missing. This trail is quite steep on the lower end with some rocky technical sections on it. The upper part of the trail system is just spectacular with good smooth single track and great little climbs and descents. The light rain made the otherwise sticky rocks, slick and treacherous.

I make 2 laps around each of the upper 2 loops and then head back to the truck. Total ride time 1:45. This was a nice little work out with no people to contend with and just enough rain to make the trail perfectly tacky.

Life is Short... Enjoy the Ride



Some people hate working on their bikes, some don't have the ability to do it, some don't have the time. Others like myself enjoy working on their rides. I will perform nearly every maintenance item on them with the exception of a few things like truing wheels or reuilding shocks & forks. Everything else is fair game to me.

I have always tinkered with mechanical things, I'm good with my hands and I like figuring out what makes things work and what makes them not work. When you ride as much as I do and you don't have a professional mechanic to work on your bikes then you learn to do it yourself. It also saves you a ton of money and down time waiting on a shop to do something simple. However, making a mistake can cost you as well... Usually, you only make that mistake once.

One of the beauties of doing my own work is that I know everything about the bikes, I know every sound, click and whirr. The bikes all have 'personalities', each is different. It also makes a big difference when something goes wrong on a ride... and if it can be fixed on the spot then I know how to fix it in the field... I don't like to walk, besides pushing your bike for 15 miles back to the truck is just plain no fun.

A while back 3 of us were starting on a ride and one of the bikes brakes wouldn't work. These are hydraulic disc brakes that normally work flawlessly. Between the 3 of us we improvised the tools, gadgets and fittings needed to extract brake fluid from my truck and get it into the bike brake cylinder. Long story short, we did a full brake bleed job in the parking lot and it only shorted our ride by about 15 minutes.

Wrenching is a 4 letter word to some, to me it's a necessary but fun aspect of being an avid rider.

Life is Short... Enjoy the Ride

Indian Creek


Indian Creek is a special place for me. It is a huge area that is generally contained in the Pike National Forest. The trails are very good and there is plenty of climbing and descending to be had so it is a great place for me to train. It is close enough to my place that it is easy to get to with out too much hassle.

I find it a great place to escape to so that I can ride my mountain bike and most times I never see any people when I'm there. Tonight I left from the Waterton Canyon Parking lot at 5:40. I dropped the hammer out of the gate. My intent was to get about 20 - 25 miles in before dark.

The legs didn't have the snap and pop that they normally do. I suspect that it was the 2 days off the bike, the travel to and from Chicago and sitting that took it out of me.

Anyhow I was headed up Stevens Gulch which now has a bunch of dead fall in it due to the last big heavy snow that we got. I had to keep getting off the bike to climb over the down trees. At about 3/4 mile up the trail from the Waterton Canyon single track loop I spotted another rider ahead of me, pushing his bike. When I caught up to him I scared him... he never heard me coming. Anyhow, he was very happy to see me as he was lost and definitely headed in the wrong direction. I got him straightened out and redirected him back to toward Waterton Canyon. It would have been a very, very long night for him if we hadn't crossed paths.

About 10 minutes after sending the lost biker on his way I spotted a bobcat in the trail! This is a first for me, I've seen their tracks in the snow before but never seen one in the wild. He was moving away from me and I only saw him for a second or so but I got a good enough look to tell exactly what it was. I think that I crept up on him because of the flowing water in the creek and the damp ground kept my bike tires quiet.

I saw a bunch of mule deer in different spots on the trail and also ran across 4 elk that were grazing in the meadow on my way back down towards the dam. I don't often see elk in this area so it was neat to see them run gracefully out of my way.

I finally reached the dam and the dirt road when it was near dusk. It was fun riding down the 6 miles of dirt road next to the river in the near dark with no lights and no people. I think how fun it would be to share some of these cool experiences with someone else. I got back to the truck after dark happy to have done 25 miles in 2 hrs and 45 mins.

Gaining Perspective


So early this morning I went to great lengths to write about proper recovery after a big race effort. Low intensity ride, low heart rate, plenty of sleep etc, etc... That is the typical recovery regime after most races. This morning however I am trying to gain some perspective on a number of things. I want to see how my body will perform on two consecutive days with big training loads on it. Additionally, I have some things in my life that I'm trying to work through so I find that I do some of my best thinking while on the bike in an anaerobic induced haze.

The subconscious mind is powerful, I didn't realize until I was on the trail that I'd already made up my mind on what I was going to ride. I'd picked out two of the biggest, hardest climbs in Indian Creek to ride up. These are the most difficult and longest climbs that I can do in this area and I know them well, nothing like creating your own little suffer fest.

Over all I felt remarkably physically good but I didn't have the power in my legs that I wanted to feel. This didn't necessarily surprise me due to the fact that I haven't been riding a bunch of hills consistently. I rode 4 hours, 35 miles and climbed 4,500'. While this isn't a big training day it did give me some good perspective on where I am on my training. Ultimately, I'm trying to be in shape for the Breck Epic stage race which has 6 days of back-to-back racing and 40K' of climbing.

The weather conditions today match my mood, overcast, dreary and cold. I'm glad that it never rained but it was damp and cold which kept me hammering to stay warm. On the top of one ridge the single track is perfect and it descends gently at first then drops dramatically toward the end, the ground was damp and the trail was tacky. So with the fog swirling around, I found myself ripping down the trail with reckless abandon. I am riding like I'm being chased by the devil him self. I am acutely aware that no one knows where I am and no one is likely to be by this way for several days so a big crash could be a real problem. Additionally, no one would miss me for at least 2 days this keeps me very focused on not making mistakes.

So for my riding I learned that I must start hammering hills and lots of them over the next 2 months. As for working through the things in my life that are troubling me... they are still troubling me but at least I have a better more well rounded view of them.

Maybe I'm tired enough to sleep tonight. It's all about gaining perspective.

Life is short, Enjoy the Ride.

Front Range 50


I usually wait a few days to update the blog after a race but my mind is working over time at 0200 Sunday AM and I can't sleep so I'll just do it now...The Front Range 50 arrived only 6 days after the 18 Hours of Fruita. It is very difficult for your body to recover from one really big race and be ready to go for the next one in such a short time. These race efforts are so hard that it breaks your body down to the point that it takes days of careful 'active recovery' on the bike, proper eating and plenty of rest to get over the last effort and to be ready for the next heavy hard training day or race.This last week was quite difficult for me with a lot going on in my work & personal life as well as a trip out to Ohio for a one day training class. I didn't make the time to be on the bike so I wasn't able to do a 'recovery' ride on Sunday... the day after the 18 Hrs of Fruita.It seems counter intuitive but the recovery ride is an important element to quickly getting back on your training regime. It essentially helps flush out all sorts of waste products that are still trapped in the muscles and speeds the repair of broken down muscle tissue etc. Additionally this very low intensity ride helps work out sore and stiff muscles, for me it is done at a heart rate of less than 125 beats per minute and is usually 1 - 1.5 hrs in length.Another extreemly helpful recovery treatment is a massage, again trying to work out soreness & knots from the over use.Anyhow, none of these things happened for me last week and to make matters worse my flight was delayed coming out of Cleveland by 1.5 hours and then the shuttle bus was 30 minutes late so I didn't get home until after 11 PM. I had fixed my bike before leaving on the trip but had never ridden it to verify that the repairs were OK (mistake). None of my stuff was packed or ready to go and to make matters worse I over slept...Anyhow, the day was an absolutely classic Colorado spring day. Bright blue skys, sunny and a few scattered clouds by race time it would be about 45F. I was able to get my premixed bottles up to the start finish 'neutral feed zone' and to recruit a spectator to help me get my bottles on each lap. Not having a crew is quite difficult especially in these short races where seconds mean the difference between one finishing place and the next.This race is interesting because it attracts all kinds of riders, there are professional, expert, sport & beginner riders all lumped together in the mass start we are further broken down by 10 year age groups. Additionally, there are 2 races being run on the same course so traffic is an issue for faster riders trying to pass the slower or riders.My strategy going into this race was to go out hard and fast, get to my target heart rate where my body would just barely clear the lactic acid from the muscles and to hold this maximum effort for 4 hours. I believe that I will be able to turn 45 minute laps so I should finish the 5 laps in about 3 hrs 45 minutes.The start on this race is a bit crazy, the riders are bunched together on our bikes and when the gun goes off we all scramble to get moving then immediately climb a short hill on a dirt road toward the start finish line. The faster riders are staged in the front of the throng and the rest of us are left to fight our way through slower traffic.The first couple of laps are difficult due to riders being bunched up, slower riders are getting dropped, faster riders are having to pass etc. I take stock of how I feel during each lap to determine if I can go harder or need to slow my pace. After each lap I seem to get a bit faster, the thinning of the field is helping that but I also am 'getting into the groove'. I try to fuel, tak[...]

2009 - 18 Hours of Fruita - Race Results


Finally!!!! The first race of the year is here!! As you know the 12 Hours (Dawn Til’ Dusk) race in Gallup, NM was cancelled a few weeks ago. Chad and I were terribly disappointed. So we are now headed to the 18 Hours of Fruita race in western Colorado. We meet at the Mammoth Lot on the west side of Denver, transfer Chad’s gear from his truck to mine and drive west. We are both excited and a bit hesitant about the first race of the year. Both of us have put in countless hours of training & preparation and a bunch of cash to get ready for these races.The thing that I think makes this race particularly challenging is that we are racing as a team. We are both driven people so we expect a lot of ourselves and we expect that as team mates that we will live up to and exceed our expectations of each other. This is a bit stressful for both of us, thinking about making the right decisions and executing flawlessly.Last year we had some handoff issues. The timing of when the rider came to the start/finish line and the relief rider hit the course. We also had equipment issues. This race is so fast that wasted seconds even over 18 hours can translate to a lost position at the end of the race.Chad and I have spent untold hours riding motorcycles, hunting, hiking, climbing and enjoying life. Sometimes I think that we know what the other person will do better than they themselves do. We have spent hours critiquing our personal performances over the last year and how we performed as a team. We have analyzed and broken down our results from last year, looked at them in so many different ways but now it is time to put this self critical evaluation and retooling to the test.On arriving at High Line Lake State Park we are assigned a camp site which we quickly convert to our Pit area. There is the large 6 person dome tent, our thick inflatable air mattress, sleeping bags etc and the all important 10’ x 10’ canopy tent. As we make our final pre race preparations it is becoming apparent that a year of reflection and hard work are paying off, we are relaxed and over prepared so we are not stressed and we are ahead of schedule.The race is to start at 00:00 Friday night. We decide who will start the race with a coin toss, Chad wins the toss so he will start the race for us. Our plan is to ride 2 laps each then hand off to the next rider. The intent is that we will get into a groove during each session and minimize handoff issues while maximizing our lap performances by not becoming too fatigued. We know that in good weather that we will turn roughly 30 minute laps so each person has an hour on and off the bike to do what ever needs done to be ready for the next session.We are able to get a couple of hours sleep before 23:15 on Friday so we wake up and get Chad ready to go with time to spare. He is on the start line early with the rest of the racers. I can’t see him or anyone on the start line in the inky darkness but the announcer is easy to hear in the calm night air and the cheers of everyone is exciting.The gun goes off and the racers have to run a short course, get to their bikes and start the ride. This Lemans style start is intended to spread out the field and minimize traffic issues during the ensuing mêlée’ . I can’t really explain the excitement that we feel, if you have been there then you understand, if you haven’t then I’d liken it to what you felt as a kid when you waited so long for a birthday, Christmas or some other highly anticipated fun event.The night is warm, we are wearing leg warmers, jerseys, a light weight wind vest & arm warmers. Its cold each time we start but we quickly warm up. The course is not technical, it is relat[...]

Fruita Colorado


Ahhh... spring in the Rockies... one minute it's sunny and 60F and the next it's snowing so hard that you can't see. I'm getting a bit tired of the snow and there is a huge 'up slope' spring storm that it bearing down on Colorado. An upslope typically dumps snow on the front range but it doesn't impact the middle and western part of the state.So on Friday with the weather guessers predicting anywhere from 10 - 36 inches of snow for the Front Range on Friday and Saturday I decided to bail out and head west to Fruita for a dry weekend of mountain biking. The best laid plans... by the time I could leave on Friday, the snow was so heavy that I70 was closed. So early Saturday AM with a driving rain snow mix I headed north on 25, west on I80, South on 13 to Rifle and west on 70 again... I had escaped the grips of the snow and showed up in Fruita in time to ride Marys Loop, Steves, Handcuffs, Lions Loop and Mack Ridge.On Sunday AM, I head over to the Book Cliffs Area just north of Fruita. I'd never been here before but this is a treat! I was slow starting due to my back being tight and sore from shoveling some snow on Friday AM and from being in the truck so long etc. Anyhow, I mixed a 4 hour bottle of fuel and headed out... I warmed up on Prime Cut to Chutes and Ladders. Back up Prime Cut to Front Side. I am on a mission to do the Edge Loop and nothing is going to stop me. The Edge Loop is about 30 miles long, it's remote and apparently not often ridden... perfect! I never saw a single sole during this whole ride :). No mountain bike ride would be complete without some great twisted story to tell...So at about Mile 22 I've climbed and decended a good amount of pretty precipitous terrain (OK some of it is wicked steep) and I'm now at the infamous 30' 'waterfall'. Which is thankfully dry.I've done a bit of climbing and this kind of thing doesn't bother me but it has my undivided attention. I've got to get me and the bike down this cliff face in one piece. There is no way around it and no turning back. This would be an easy task with 2 people but since no one likes to play my game... I'm left to my own devices.There are a couple of fixed lines that have been placed down this narrow rock chute that are critical to doing this little decent safely. So I rig up my bike with my camelback straps so that I can wear it on my back. No, it is no fun taking your own picture and it's not a very good one but you get the idea of the bike/camelback rig.My biggest concern about the decent was getting the bike wedged in the top part of the chute and it causing me to fall or to damage the bike. Anyhow, I'm now down safely and I continue to head down the narrow canyon. After a bit I am back on single track climbing out of several ravines... this is really cool!I arrive back at the truck and I've consumed all of my fuel and nearly drained my camelback dry. I've been out exactly 4 hours and I'm happy that the fuel and water are working out so well... I do a lot of tweaking on these critical aspects to make sure that I'm getting the calories and hydration that I need. I'm having to use a camelback this year due to the Carbon Yeti having only a single bottle cage... it takes some getting used to, hence the need to practice with it.I quickly refuel for 2 more hours, more water and head back out to hit the classic storied trails of Kessel Run, Joes Ridge & Western Zippety. I finish up on Zippety Do Da. My friend Mike told me that this was going to be a real treat so I saved it till last. He was right! This is a gem! It's marked for experts only and has a reputation for breaking collar bones due to how steep it is and after riding it I can see why!S[...]

More Hill Work


Today's bike session was more work on Jackson Creek Road. I was able to get 3600' of vertical which equates to about 2 and 1/2 laps before I ran out of day light. I was very happy that I felt much better and stronger than 2 days ago. I was able to keep the intensity, speed and heart rate up. The purpose of this workout is to build power so I'm using larger gears and lower pedal cadence... I can feel it in the legs tonight.

I love this time of year because the training gains are always obvious and quick to realize. I'm eating a lot and am happy that I am able to do so with out worrying too much about counting calories. I concentrate on consuming high quality protein, carbohydrates and veggies. I also supplement which is very important for recovery and to allow hard training the next day.

I'm still heavier than I want to be, my scale tells me that I'm running roughly 7% body fat, in another 6 weeks I should (or want to) be down to about 5%... I'll get there, it just takes hard work and focus on not eating junk or consuming more good food than I really need.

Road Bike Intervals 1 min on 2 min recovery


Well, I got to experience a new level of pain and suffering yesterday. I was introduced to the 1 minute full out sprint followed by a 2 minute recovery and repeat 10 times. This workout is supposed to and should help the body improve its ability to work at very high intensity levels and recover more quickly between. The translation over to the mountain bike would be a tough technical uphill section that requires a lot of effort to get through or a passing situation in a race.

I was quite pleased that I could hang in there on these. 3o minute warm up ride then the 30 minute ride - recover intervals then 30 minute cool down. Today, my legs feel OK but I can definitely tell that I was working hard yesterday.

I ended up with a work out cough and I could taste the blood but I'm happy to say that overall the body is hanging in there and responding to the training load.

Jackson Creek Road


Well today was the first day that I've hit my 'favorite' dirt road. Jackson Creek Road is a dirt road that essentially goes straight up into the foothills... it is a relentless climb of 1400' vertical to the gate that blocks access to the national forest. There is no road or trail that I know of that is close to the house, can be ridden when it's wet and is sustained and steep... this fits the bill.

I turned around at the gate today because there was snow on the road past it and I know this route so well that I know that it would be futile to try to go farther. Also, I forgot my bike fenders and with the road being so wet I would have ended up a muddy mess with little additional training to show for it. I only have a few weeks to train on this road because the traffic becomes so heavy once Rampart Range Road is opened up that it is dangerous for me to ride it not to mention the choking dust that is kicked up by all the cars, trucks & jeeps.

I rode the Yeti 575 today because it is heavy on the way up and fun on the way down. More weight going up helps build that leg strength that I'll need for long sustained climbs during races but I'll be doing those race climbs on the light weight Carbon Yeti which should translate to faster speeds and better overall endurance.

I only had time to make 2 laps on JCR before it got dark but the 1.5 hours was worth it. I've got a good base line for my climbing strength now and I'll be able to work on building power in my legs. This training hill is not fun, in fact it is really hard to do and to stay focused. I just keep thinking that all this hard work will pay off when the gun goes off at the (now) first race - The 18 Hours of Fruita.

Sunday Training Ride


Well after yesterday's cancelled Dawn Til' Dusk Race in Gallup NM and our subsequent drive back home... I was dying to get a ride in... no matter the penalty...

So I headed out on the Cyclocross bike at about noon... I stepped into 38F, Fog, Rain and about a 20mph wind... this was going to be a real training day on the roadbike... because as you know ' If it ain't rainin', then it ain't training '.

A bunch of cars passed me while I was out... I could feel them stare at me as they went by... probably muttering something about me obviously being crazy.

I managed to stay on the bike for over an hour and a half but my hands go so cold that I couldn't feel them and I couldn't work the brakes so I had to cut it short. I really felt good and wanted so badly to continue for several more hours but thought better of it... I don't want to get sick or run down. It was a struggle to get my gloves and gear off in the garage but I felt better after a hot shower and some warm food.

I'll lift and do some ab work this afternoon. I will also stretch... I'm still tight from the long hours in the truck on Friday and Saturday.

I can't really complain about the rain because we need it so badly, it's been really dry here for about 4 months so this is very much welcome.

Monday is supposed to be sunny and 59F and I should get to take advantage of it!

Dawn Til' Dusk - 2009 - Canceled due to Rain, Snow & MUD


Those of us who choose to entertain ourselves with hours of training and long races expect bad weather from time to time... I could tell some stories... Anyhow, Chad, his sister Beth and I headed down to Gallup, NM on Friday April 10th for the 12 hour Dawn Til' Dusk mountain bike race. It was a great trip down, good conversation, good music and good company... It takes about 8 hours drive to get there from my place in Castle Rock.We arrived in Gallup at about 430PM on Friday afternoon, got checked in and headed over the race course which is about 15 minutes away. Chad and I were both signed up to do the 12 hour solo race. The race directors quarantine solo riders in our own special holding area which is close to the course so that it makes it easier for us to get into and out of our pit areas quickly.We set up our canopy tent to stake out our spot which will now become our official 'Pit' area and then we head off to partially ride the course before it gets dark. This is the first time that we have ridden this course so we are anxious to see what it holds in store for us. We ride out about 3 miles out then catch the other side of the trail and return down a different set of switch backs back to the Pits. The course is very nice, the first bit of it has a couple of tricky switch backs and one ledge which is easy to ride if your mind doesn't get in the way (it has a nasty fall to the right down about 10' if you screw up). The top part is clay, 'slick rock' and packed sand... very nicely done trail.After securing our race packets back at 'El Rancho' we head off in search of food... Pasta and chicken is what I want and we find it at a local itialian place... good food and poor service...This is the biggest salad that we have ever seen! Go Beth!I should interject that Beth has volunteered to come down and crew for Chad and I... what a sacrifice that she has made giving up a vacation day driving about 17 hours round trip with us etc... We are grateful for her company and for her help during the race. Thanks Beth! We enjoyed having you along and hope that next time will bring sunshine and warm temps!Saturday 0500 comes early... none of us has slept particularly well, we are nervous as usual before a race especially the first one of the season. The other thing that is nagging us is the sound of a steady rain drumming on the flat roof out side our windows.We are loaded and out the door by 0530 headed over to the pit area. Things are looking pretty bleak... fog, rain, snow and cold. We arrive at the pit area at about 0545 where we are greeted with a sea of mud.The race director came by at about 0600 and told us that the race would be delayed from 0700 until 0900 due to the bad weather and absolutely deplorable trail conditions.We are all hopeful that the present weather system will pass quickly and that the course will dry out to allow the a 0900 start. We have access to Sirus - Satellite based Travel Link radar in the truck which now becomes our sole focus for the next 2 hours. The red triangle is where we are and the weather is tracking to the north east... nice...At the pre-race meeting at 0845 we are told that the conditions are terrible and the sections of the course are not only unrideable but also unwalkable... nice...So an additional 2 hour delay is put into place and we are delayed until 1100 at which time they will decide to either hold the race starting at 1200 or cancel it.From our unique position to see the weather on radar as well as to be able to cross correlate what we are seeing[...]

New (Replacement) Carbon Yeti


Well true to their reputation Yeti took care of my broken frame, no cost to me and I was back in business after exactly 7 days. Now that is service! The shop (Bike Source) in Highlands Ranch was tremendous, thanks Steve & Damon, you ROCK! The other really cool thing is that my replacement frame is now stealth black which is way cool.


Yes this is my kitchen... hey I can cook AND look at the new bike.

Training is going pretty well but I'm concerned how well prepared I am for the first race... April 11 in Gallup, NM. Dawn Till Dusk (12 hour solo). I have to remember that this is the first race of the season and that it is meant to be a 'shake down' for me and the new bike... a measuring stick if you will to see where I am and where I need to be as the season progresses.

I escaped the impending snow storm April 4-5 by driving to Sante Fe, NM... long haul and I had no idea what was in store for me there or even where I was going but I knew that there wouldn't be any snow and that I could either road or mountain bike in the high desert so it was all good. I was concerned that I would miss out on two critical training days if I stayed in Colorado so south bound I25 was calling me!

The local bike shop in Sante Fe hooked me up with the trail gouge and a map and I spent 2 days getting the crap kicked out of me... these are technical and steep trails and I'm not too adept at technical up hill so it was a real work out for me.

So the race season is about to start and I've got an official 'Team'... PowerQuip of course is the main sponsor and PowerQuip couldn't do it without our principals and our customers... thanks to everyone for their well wishes and for your support!

My other sponsor is so critical that without them I'm am certain that I could never even think of competing in these events. I am very happy with is the work that Well Within Chiropractic (Dr. Joel Kinch) has done with me to eliminate my neck and back pain. Without Dr. Joel and his super staff of professionals I couldn't hope to train at this level. They have helped me beyond description and I'll be a patient for life so that I can get the most from this beat up body.

My next post will be after the Dawn Til' Dusk Race on Saturday... 0700 - 1900 (12hrs solo). My friend Chad and I are headed down together on Friday AM.

Catching Up


Catching up... I think that I do more 'catching up' than most 'normal' people do. Anyway, it's been a while since I took the time to tap out a few words and alot has transpired in my tiny corner of the world.

Lets see... I've been riding a bunch both road and mountain, I'm feeling pretty good and getting some good solid training hours in. We have had a very, very dry winter and early spring on the front range so the trails have been rideable even in the foothills. Last weekend I got a great 4 hour ride over at Indian Creek, there were still patches of ice on the trail in spots and some places were wet but over all it was bone dry.

On Sunday I got in a long ride in Buffalo Creek which I had ridden only a small part of several years ago. There is a bunch of terrain to explore over there and I can't wait to go back.

During Sunday's ride the frame broke on my new carbon Yeti. The bike had a grand total of 138 miles on it so I'm sure that Yeti will cover it. It was very strange to keep riding the bike once I discovered the crack and realized just how bad it was but it held together and got me out without having to walk the last 10 miles so I'm grateful for that.

After a long delay and a bunch of procrastination I put the Yeti 575 back together. I had some parts issues etc but it is done now. It is essentially a new bike now... new pivot bearings, new headset, new cables & housings, rebuilt fork and shock by PUSH, new set of chain rings... rode it yesterday for an hour... freaking SWEET. Feels better than new but it is a TANK (~30#) by compairson to the Carbon Yeti which weighs 22.5#.

Speaking of the Carbon Yeti, it handles incredibly well. I can't believe how much faster and more confident I feel on it. I'll have to keep riding it to get fully settled in on it but I can say without hesitation that it is absoultely with out a doubt the finest race rig that a rider could hope for.

I'll primairly use the 575 to train on and it will make me work harder on the climbs so that the Carbon bike will be a treat during races.

So my plan is to keep riding the road bike(s) to continue building endurance, with a mix of riding the 575 and (hopefully) my new (new) Carbon Yeti. I'll try to get some good solid hill work in with the 575 since it weighs about 30# as it is currently configured...

So for hill work on the mountain bike it's Jackson Creek Road here I come... this is a dirt road that, in good conditions, will allow about an 8 mile uphill that boasts ~2,100' of verticle. The downside to JCR is that it gets a bunch of traffic once they open Rampart Range Road so I won't have much time to use this great hill for training. The other downside to this road is the pure repetitive nature of the work out. It also requires that I use fenders on the bike because sections of it are always wet this time of year. However, doing this route 4 times in a row is a respectable workout and serves its purpose.

Torries Peak via Kelso Ridge


Well I committed to myself on the flight to Salt Lake City that I would go with Chad and try a winter assent of Torries Peak via Kelso Ridge and so this little adventure began by meeting at 0530 in the Wolly Mammoth parking lot just west of Denver. After a slow start (0700) from the parking lot off of the Bakerville exit which is just down the hill from the Eisenhower Tunnel we ski up the road.We are on our back country skis with skins on the bottom of them. For those who may not know, skins are used to allow a ski to slide easily forward and up but when loaded with your weight it ‘sticks’ to the surface of the snow. This method of back country travel gives you access to areas that are otherwise quite difficult to get into and out of easily. The ski evenly bears the weight of the skier as he ascends. Unlike snowshoes, upon reaching the turnaround point the skier, after removing the skins from the skis, has a real advantage of a speedy exit rather than a slow slog out.Both methods of travel have their advantages and their place but neither is perfect on all terrain. The skis that we are on today use a special binding that attaches to our plastic ‘double boots’, again a trade-off… While being really great for keeping your feet warm, providing excellent foot & ankle support as well as a solid anchor for crampons they are poor ski boots at best. I explain all of this because it is difficult enough for me to ski the most forgiving skis and great fitting ski boots but then to add the sloppy fitting double boots and stiff, straight & hard to turn back country skis makes it an ‘adventure’ for me every time on the way down. By contrast, Chad could use anything remotely resembling a ski and beat me down the hill all while making it look easy.The sun just hitting Kelso Ridge, we are a long ways off still well below tree line.Safe back country travel at any time of year requires some level of knowledge and skill. Winter travel is particularly tricky because the special gear required as well as the obvious challenges of snow, ice, wind and cold. As we make our way up the snow covered road we are constantly adjusting our clothing levels to match the current conditions. This is a ‘skill’ or at least a knowledge that requires a lot of practice to do naturally without it taking lots of time and effort. We are constantly zipping, un-zipping, removing, adding or adjusting layers of clothes to match the rate of heat generated against the rate that the environment removes it from our bodies. Further adding to this unchoreographed dance is the requirement to shed heat at a rate that is great enough to be comfortable but not too warm that we begin to sweat. Sweat is one of the outdoorsman’s greatest enemies because if you get wet, you can, at best, be uncomfortable and at worst create an environment ripe for hypothermia.Today’s clothing and gear is so advanced from what is was 30 years ago… or even 10 years ago. Growing up, we wore cotton ‘long johns’ which were great until you started to sweat or got wet from melting snow, rain etc then they were pretty close to useless because cotton holds moisture which as explained above can cause problems. I’m always in awe of the early explorers & mountaineers who didn’t have the advantages of this modern gear which we all enjoy and take for granted today.The ski up the road (or ‘skin’ as we call it) is easy, we quickly loose the sound of t[...]

Beautiful White, Grey & Black - Thoughts from an airplane


Well, during December 2008 I was on 12 flights in about 3 weeks and by the time February 2nd arrives I will have been on an additional 8 flights... So, 20 flights in less than 2 months, that's just not right! Anyway, I'm not asking for sympathy, I know where I can find it, in the dictionary... it's between... Oops can't write that, this is a 'G' rated blog.My latest sortie got changed from Bismarck, ND to Salt Lake City, UT... One of the guys that was in Bismarck this week told me that it was only -20F ambient and that I would have been disapointed with the weather since it was -56F last year with the wind chill but, I digress...I have flown commercially so much in my 19 year career that I find it a real drag. To me it's like being on a Greyhound bus, it is a way to get from point to point. The upside to flying is that I can work, read or sleep... I mostly work but sometimes catch up on the latest mountain bike magazine or the occassional book. I always try to get an isle seat and avoid the dreaded middle and rarely find myself on the window.Tuesdays flight to Salt Lake on Frontier Airlines was something different, the flight departed into a piercing blue sky, CAVU (Clear And Visually Unrestricted ) weather. We took off heading directly west... the flight was only about 30% full, I had an exit row to myself. With no MTN bike mag to read and not being able to use the computer until after take off I found myself in the window seat gazing out at the countryside which quickly slipped beneath us as we climbed to ~32,000'.The flight path from DEN to SLC takes us just south of Longs Peak... I can see the City of Boulder, Fort Collins, Devils Back Bone and other prominent landmarks. I am now truly captivated by the topography, I'm staring down at Longs Peak, recalling a wildly cold night that my friend Sean and I spent in the Boulder Field at about 12,000' before doing the final winter assent of the Dove route in double boots, crampons & mittens... I recall an early Christmas day morning with my friend Chad when we attempted to climb Longs and the wind was blowing so hard that we couldn't stand up above tree line... that was cold too.Further west I see Grand Lake which is close to where I usually ski and to the north Walden and the huge expanse of cold flat ground to the west of Walden all the way to Rabbit Ears Pass. Next I see Steamboat Springs, Hayden Station & Craig Station with their cooling tower plumes giving away their locations like light houses on a clear night.A bit further west I spot the Colorado River where it heads down into the Flat Tops where Chad and I hunt elk... I think how funny it is that I can spot these things and am able to orientate myself so easily even with everything covered in ice and snow. I feel strangely and strongly attached to Colorado and the west not just for the tremendous views and rugged unforgiving landscape but also because of the people and characters that it attracts. I think how lucky I am to be here, to have a real sense of belonging and a sense of direction and purpose for my life.My mind wanders, I remember that I am supposed to tell Chad if I can join him on a climb up Greys and Torries on Saturday this week. I also get a flood of memories of Denali, Aconcagua in the Andes, motorcycles rides, skiing, ice climbing and just hanging out in various cool places around the state and in the west. I feel the mental draggons of work &[...]