Going to Moab and Getting Older

If you go to Moab and don’t post about it on the internet, did it actually happen??!? I don’t want to risk it, so…

I posted before about winning the bike shop lottery, and that still holds mostly true. It’s not easy to find a shop where, around the beginning of May, you can just knock off for a few days and take a Moab vacation (Well, I could do that at 92Fifty, but that’s because it was snowing and whatnot).

I took Matt along for his first Moab experience. We rode the Slickrock trail on the first day since we only had the afternoon, and it’s a trail that’s both interesting/iconic as much as it is worth getting out of the way early.

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The next day was Porcupine Rim. The weather was spotty at best.

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As we climbed Sand Flats to the start of Lower Porcupine Singletrack, we experienced the whole range of sun, rain, and, as we entered the trail, a few minutes of steady snow. A desert snow storm at the top of one of the most famous trails around is a unique and beautiful experience. The trail was mostly hero dirt… also rare and beautiful. And fast. The Mach 6 is still one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden.

It took most of Porcupine Rim to get my nerve for tech/chunder up after being on the trainer all winter. I was feeling brave by the time we were at the bottom, though. Rolling back in to town, we made a stop at Milts… another iconic Moab spot.

Day three, we finally had perfect desert weather. We rode in the Amasa-back area- up Hymasa, down Ahab, then up Amasa Jeep trail and down Rockstacker and Jackson. I had several small victories on Ahab where I rode spots that I remember walking in the past. However, I also made what could be considered one of the worst GoPro videos of Rockstacker, as I slid/walked down the most infamous droppy spots on the trail. I will say, though, I’m getting waaaaaaaay better at dealing with exposure and dropping off of ledges. There are some spots that I know I’ll get eventually. There are some that I’m OK with never getting.

Screenshot from the video:

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Since the weather had finally turned awesome, at the recommendation of the campground owner, we went to a local swimming hole following our ride.

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Overnight, the weather went back to crap. So, day 4, we didn’t get any more riding before we had to get to driving home. On the drive home, the clutch in my Impreza started to die. By the time I was getting off the interstate near my house, I couldn’t put the car in to gear without the engine shutting off. Luckily, I got to the house, and my car insurance has a great roadside assistance program. I paid all of $7 to have it towed to a shop… where I paid all of $1100 to have a new clutch put into it.

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That was a bummer considering I’d been shopping around for a new car and just hadn’t had the time to make it happen yet. I did eventually trade it in the day after my birthday-

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I leave it to you guys to guess which one is mine.

My birthday was pretty rad all around. Not only did I get a sweet new car with the help of my parents, I am finally in a place where I’ve got some friends that are stoked to help me celebrate. At work, shop owner Steve gave me cake

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Afterward, we went to Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden and had a couple of beers, and another cake that my amazing co-worker Amanda baked at home. I am not misusing the word “literally” when I say, I literally don’t remember the last time I had such a great birthday. I have tried to remember, but I can’t. I have no idea.

P.S. Speaking of birthdays, Indy turned 16 a couple of days ahead of my turning 35. He’s quite the little dog fossil.

Turning 35 is oddly frightening at this point in my life. Before now, every year older is another year more awesome. That still holds true, but, as I look around, I know that most women my age are “settled” with socially accepted careers and families. Here I am, a divorced bike mechanic, seeking out whatever adventures may find me in ColorAdo. Fun? Yes. Do I feel like others are judging me? Also yes.

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My early-life proclamation that I don’t want to have kids feels more permanent by the day.

I have no regrets.

The age thing mostly hit me when I was looking at the registration page for an upcoming jiujitsu tournament, and I saw that I’m eligible to enter the Master’s division. I probably qualify for the same in some bike races as well, depending on the governing body of said race. Other than some occasionally intense back and finger joint pain, I don’t feel old. I’m actually in super great shape… not “for my age,” but for anyone. I’ve got better abs than I’ve ever had, and I’m ready to tear up some XC races on the singlespeed this summer. Master’s class be damned.

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Mountain Ramblings

I almost don’t know what to write here.

Seriously… I’m constantly coming up with all of these deep thoughts and ruminations while I’m either driving to work or riding the trainer, then I finally get a spare hour to type them all out and I’m like, “uhhhhh… I’ll just post a bunch of cool photos from my phone.”

I wanted to write something deep about mountains, motivation, occasional depression, and my impending 35th birthday, but it’s hard to figure out how to combine them all in to one coherent post. I had it all figured out in a series of morning commutes to Boulder, but now the organization escapes me.

I spend a majority of my commute time on CO Highway 93. It parallels the Foothills between Golden and Boulder, and runs on the top of a mesa a few hundred feet above the surrounding cities, so the view is one of the most spectacular ones you could ask for on a commute. It’s a constant reminder of my time in the mountains last summer. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to repeat at least a few of those adventures this summer and maybe add a couple more to my memories.
I think anyone who reads my blog can relate, but seeking out things in nature that leave me awe-struck is like an addiction… looking for awesome moments. And, I don’t mean “awesome” like in a Ninja Turtles/Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure sort of way… I’m talking like the dictionary definition sort of awesome.

awe·some
/?ôs?m/
adjective
extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.
“the awesome power of the atomic bomb”
…Like the time I narrowly escaped a lightning storm on Rollins Pass, or when I went up Kingston Peak and discovered wind that picked my bike up off of the ground while I was trying to hike-a-bike. They’re those times when you realize that there are places where, as much as they’ll never admit to it, humans won’t permanently impose themselves into because Mother Nature is still in complete control.
I’ll go back up there at some point, but for now, my adventures stay close to home so I can take care of little Indy. He’s turning 16 just before I turn 35. He’s still truckin’ along, albeit he’s equally as blind as he is incontinent, and he’s all the way deaf. He seems content to stay in his pen in the yard when the weather is nice, but I never leave him for too long. He’s at close to half of my Instagram feed if you want to see his cute old man-ness.
The other half is fun and interesting things from the bike shop. Since we just had a spring snow storm, this weekend was renovation time. I got a new and improved work space.
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We’re finishing it up today. I’m pretty stoked.
Outside of snow days, my coworkers and a few dudes from the shop-sponsored team are doing Sunday morning Flagstaff rides from the shop. The climb up Flagstaff is wonderfully difficult. It’s steep and only gets steeper as you go up.
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The riding out of Boulder seems to be pretty amazing. I’ll probably end up with some good pre/post work/days off road miles from up there. As much as I hate to admit it, it’d be rad to live in Boulder. However, like most mountainside cities, the cost of living there is way higher than what your average service worker makes at her/his job. Matt wrote a really good post for Mountain Bike Radio just the other day about what mechanics are expected to know/do vs. what they’re paid: MBR Opinion-What’s your Bike Mechanic Worth?
It’s frustrating and a trigger of more than one depressive episode. How? I recently pulled a calf muscle. I’d love to go to a one of the kickass doctors and PTs in this area. However, I have high deductible insurance. So, while I won’t go broke with a $3500 maxiumum-out-of-pocket if I were to fall off a cliff tomorrow, I’m definitely not spending my savings on a “luxury” like seeing a doctor for a pulled muscle. Luxuries should be things like weekly sushi dinners, $7 chocolate bars, and occasionally buying paper towels at Whole Foods because you don’t want to make the extra stop at King Sooper’s. Instead, luxuries have become things like “medical care” and “being able to live within a 20-mile radius of my workplace.”
Ugh.
I won’t complain too much, because I am doing what I love, which is more than what I can say about a lot of people who live where they want, have super duper health insurance, and frivolously spend $20 on paper towels at Whole Foods. Most mornings, I’m pretty excited to go to work. I feel that that’s a pretty rare state for most people.
Speaking of the bike industry, if you follow my Twitter account, you may have seen the recent posts about #pulleygate. Basically, one of our JRA listeners figured out that SRAM Ceramic Hybrid derailleur pulleys only have one ceramic ball bearing in them. We found this to be humorous, because, let’s face it- that technically is a ceramic hybrid… just not in the form that 99.9% of consumers would expect.
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After a few posts, Ed Nasjleti from SRAM (who I’ve know from back in the Team Kenda Tire road racing days), hunted me down and called me at work to discuss #pulleygate. Turns out, the one ceramic ball and six steel ball model isn’t a consumer-deceiving ploy to save SRAM money on ceramic parts… it’s to give you the dirt-grinding advantage of ceramic combined with the less frequent maintenance schedule of steel. He saw my point, I saw his, and we spent another 25 minutes discussing other random and interesting bike tech. It’s always fun to talk to someone who has been in to bikes since before you learned to ride one.
Skipping back to the pulled calf muscle thing (I told you I wasn’t feeling the organization this morning)- That happened a few weeks ago at the gym. I basically overdid it a few days in a row. My left calf kept being sore (but just like “did a hard workout” sore) until it finally got “limping” sore and started to develop a lumpiness to it just behind the tibia. I’ve had to back off to no Muay Thai practice (since that’s mostly bouncing around on your toes), and technique-only drilling in Jiu-Jitsu. Because of that, I’m not going to compete in the May 14th State Championship tournament I’d planned on going to. I need to heal up and rehab it before I go tournament speed on it.
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It’ll be OK eventually. I’d just like to stop injuring the left side of my body, though. Two years ago it was my hamstring, now it’s the calf. I’m getting way too much experience with pulls and strains.
Despite the injury, bike training is still going pretty well (it doesn’t seem to bother the injury). I’m about to put the wraps on the eight week “General Build Plan” offered by TrainerRoad. I’ll re-test myself in a couple of weeks and figure out which “Specialty Phase” programs to use to peak for summer racing. I’m looking forward to smashing some singlespeed pedals in the near future.
P.S. I have no idea what sort of fuckery WordPress has done to make hitting the return key no longer put spaces between pictures and paragraphs. So, sorry this post looks like crap.

Winning at Bike Shop Roulette

As you may recall back in February, I was splitting time between two of the three Elevation Cycles locations- Downtown and Boulder (after being uprooted from the Highlands Ranch store by a coworker who was, to say the least, unfriendly). Not long after my schedule started creeping into being Boulder-heavy, it was announced that the next week (March 1st), the store sold to two new owners and would no longer be a part of Elevation Cycles.

Nick, the owner of Elevation, who I’d met at 24 Worlds just months before, gave me a choice of staying at the Denver/Highlands Ranch locations of Elevation, or “quitting” Elevation and starting at the new shop. Considering that my Boulder co-workers and I got along really well and the unfriendly coworker that I’d fled from was still working with no repercussions for his unfriendliness, the choice was pretty easy to make.

I don’t know that all of my Boulder co-workers were given the same option.

Anyways…

I’m incredibly happy with the people I work with. They all race bikes (and they’re all really good at it). They’re all incredibly nice/funny/fun to hang out with. I look forward to going to work in the mornings. The fact that they’re all good bike racers has provided me with renewed motivation to get out of “winter blues” shape and prep for a few local bike races this summer. I’ve been riding four days per week and lifting/doing super-power-yoga two days per week, along with my usual jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai classed at night.

Oh yeah- and the name of the new shop? Republic Cycles Boulder… a nod to the term “People’s Republic of Boulder” and “The Boulder Bubble.”

Part of my training plan is using the program TrainerRoad. Because of the limited time I have to ride, it’s a boon to my reclaiming of fitness. If you’ve never used it, and you aren’t afraid to ride indoors, I highly recommend it. It’s like having a coach, but for $8 a month. I know a lot of people who despise the trainer and get bored within 5 minutes. Those are usually the same people who hop on with no plan other than to watch a tv show or movie. If you use it as a hard/fast training tool, you won’t have time to be bored. Get on, warm up, do an interval workout, cool down… done. You’ve knocked out an hour to hour & a half before you realize it, and you’ve done something incredibly meaningful for your fitness.

That’s where I am now. I have added on some extra riding on Tuesdays and Saturdays (my days off). I was able to do a Saturday threshold workout on Lookout Mountain and last Tuesday, after I did my morning trainer intervals, took some out-of-town friends on a ride up and over Green Mountain. I’m looking to crush it at the Beti Bike Bash in June.

That’s the story for now. If you want little day-to-day snippets and pictures, listen to JRA and/or follow on Twitter & Instagram (links on the sidebar).

Edit to add- I’m gonna try Snapchat… I’m BrickhouseMTB on there if you swing that way…

Tournament of Champions 18

I’m currently in a spot where I’ve got way less time for the internet because of general life goings-on. When I’ve got free time, it’s mostly not being used to tell all 100 or so of you who still visit here on occasion what I’ve been up to. However, I’ve got a rare 3 days off, and I’m killing a small amount of time before I go out on the road bike and enjoy the awesome weather.

Last weekend was the first time I’ve ever competed in a Jiu Jitsu tournament. It’s also the most nervous I’ve been about a competition since racing in Masters Worlds CX a few years ago. I think my heart rate was over 100 for a large part of the morning beforehand.

The competition started with the No Gi category. When I was signing up, the options were 0-2 Years experience, 2-4 years experience, and 4+, with a note of “NO SANDBAGGING!” So, naturally, I signed up for the 2-4 category because I’ve probably had a few days more than 2 years of consistent training (I found out later that 2-4 is considered the “blue belt” division for No Gi).

When the first match started, I was immediately caught a little off guard by how fast and aggressive the fighting was. Matches are 5 minutes long, and it took me the first few minutes to fight my way out of non-dominant positions. I think this was about the point that I started to turn it around when I shimmied my way out of her guard…

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…and eventually took her back

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And (no picture of it), got a submission with a short choke.

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Then, in the winner’s bracket, I proceeded to lose my next two matches… one on points, and one to a last-minute armbar. The armbar chick fought a tiny bit dirty. The 3rd time she sawed her forearm across my face, the ref warned her to stop. It didn’t bother me. Even though I was losing the match, I kinda took pride in blatantly ignoring her elbows to the eye and forearms to the face in the process.

Then, it was time for the Gi division. That entry was a little more straightforward… white belt. I got off to a rocky start, losing my first match on points.

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(it only went downhill from that pic)

However, I won my next two matches- including a 20 second guillotine choke. As for that one- when the ref said “fight,” the woman immediately stuck her head out. I immediately started looking for my opportunity to wrap it up.

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The other win was by armbar. I was stoked. Then, I lost my last match on points. I was disappointed.

No medals, though not a bad day overall. I’m really excited that there are so many excellent competitors who want to go all out and kick ass. I’m excited to go back and improve.

I’ve got way more to blog about with huge changes at my workplace, but now I’ve got to eat some breakfast and tinker on my road bike. Maybe tomorrow.

Nailed It.

Yesterday turned out to be one of the best gym days I’ve had in a long time.

I started with Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai classes in the morning before going home to eat lunch and mentally prepare to go back to the gym and participate in the Competition Team tryouts. The only real information I’d received about what would go on during tryouts is that we’d have to run a mile(ish) in <7 minutes, that there would be more running on Green Mountain, more conditioning, and that the sparring to follow would be intense and long lasting.

I planned for it as if it were going to be a three hour cross country race. Since the 18 of us (me being the only lady) were to be outside on a mild 60 something degree day and inside with the heat on (for extra slipperiness), I packed a cooler with two bottles of Gu Roctane drink, two bottles of water, and a baggie full of Roctane Gels and chews.

First off was the run test. Everyone is required to be able to run four laps of the office complex in which the gym resides in under 7 minutes. I was able to pace myself really well, and I could tell that the trainer intervals and singlespeed laps up Lookout I’ve been doing on the bike paid off in dividends. My laps splits were super consistent, and my time was 6 minutes, 10 seconds, with energy to spare.

I downed half a bottle of Roctane while everyone was finishing up, and we continued our jog upwards towards Green Mountain. There, we did a couple of conditioning laps up a short hill and then moved onward to the final “outside” running test, which was three laps up a bigger, steeper hill to a telephone pole and back. I reverted back to my trail running days for this one… the first 100 yards or so was a gradual slope before the next 50-70 yards pitched up steeper. I jogged the lower half then powerwalked the steep part. I also had a pretty good edge at running downhill because I’ve had a lot of practice. Lap one… Everyone took off full gas. I was someplace in the middle of the group. By the end of Lap 2, I was persistence hunting the only two or three dudes ahead of me. I passed them someplace before the summit of Lap 3 and never looked back. Nick, the Coach who was directing the test, actually told me to go out for another lap because he thought I’d only done two. I asked him, “Oh, I thought it was just three. It’s Four?” It took him a fraction of a second to figure out that I’d caught the dudes he thought were leading the pack.

These dudes are legit. Even I was surprised by that one.

When we arrived back at the gym, I had a Roctane gel and most of a bottle of water. Next, we made a lap of a conditioning circuit- various exercises like battle ropes, tire jumps, agility ladders, and a heavy bag flip/drag. That was followed up by a partner drill. You paired up with someone similar to your size and had to shoot a double leg take down on them, but, instead of taking them down, pick them up over your shoulder and run to the other end of the gym, set them down, shoot again/carry them back, and repeat 4 more times before switching places. I paired up with fighter Nicholas Clem. We beat everyone.

More gel, Roctane, and water, and it was time for the hard part… the Sparring.

I went two rounds with a couple of the guys and did pretty well. Then, Kirsten Runstrom, a really badass Muay Thai fighter/coach geared up, and we sparred a 5 minute round. That was, by far, the hardest 5 minutes of the day. She’s fast, accurate, and any time I’d drop a hand, she’d take full advantage of it and flurry me backwards across the full length of the short side of the gym. Her teep kicks to the body were vicious as well. I kept my shit together, though. I used some of the fakes and feigns we’ve been drilling in class (along with some head/body combos and angles that I learned back in Memphis) and landed a decent number of kicks and combinations. She was probably taking it easy on me.

Those three rounds were followed up by a Jiu Jitsu roll with another white belt (landed a triangle and a guillotine), then one more round of Muay Thai with Kirsten and one more round with a guy who is an excellent wrestler. I was holding my own with him standing, but had to play all defense once we went to the ground.

I should mention, I splurged on a new set of headgear, and it makes sparring feel like a very aggressive pillow fight.

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But wait, there’s more!

Everyone thought it was over, but we did one more bout of conditioning with several minutes of fast feet/sprawls/pushups. Then, we high-fived, bowed out, and ate cookies. Yeah… I made cookies for everyone.

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So, I’m on the competition team! First competition? One week from tryouts- Tournament of Champions 18. I signed up for the following divisions: White Belt BJJ 121-140, NoGi intermediate 121-140, and all weights/belts submission-only both Gi and NoGi.

The first two, I hope to do well. The two “all-belts/all-weights”, I hope to learn something. For my bike racing readers not privy to what that means, that’s basically like entering two “you versus other beginners” races and two “all categories race together” races.

I need to cut a very tiny amount of weight. The weigh-ins are Friday night. Since I started adding the intense bike workouts to my training, I’ve had a hard time keeping my weight up to its happy place of 142 pounds (I’ve been fluctuating around 141). To make sure I don’t have any sort of “oh sh*t” moment on weigh in day, I’m going to do a water-manipulation cut only… basically, while maintaining the same normal eating routine (minus the cookies, maybe), I’ll overhydrate for a few days in order to stimulate aldosterone hormone production by my body, then Thursday and Friday, cut water consumption way back. The elevated aldosterone level will make my kidneys continue to remove extra water from my blood during the time that I’m not drinking a lot of water. Friday morning, I’ll figure out if I need to leave work early to ride the trainer for a hot minute to sweat anything off before weigh-ins. My guess is that I won’t need to. My weight has been very willing to stay off as of late. By not changing anything about my normal eating habits, my energy level and mood should remain intact.

I’m stoked. The Competition Team is like a family. It’s a really great, talented, and supportive group of people to work with, and we all want to see each other succeed.

 

Ode to the Surly Crosscheck

Hop in your way-back machine and set it for the Fall of 2008. I was in the process of changing road teams (from Kenda to Metro Volkswagen), and I decided that I wanted to race a little cyclocross, but that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bike, AND I wanted something that could be flipped between fixed gear and singlespeed. So, I went to Bikes Plus in Germantown and got this:

I ran it fixed gear for a hot minute before I realized that riding a fixed gear sucks ass.

Soon after, I decided that I wanted to race a gravel grinder (way before they were as popular as they are now). I set it up 1×9 with some old Shimano stuff we had laying around the house. Before you say anything… I’m not really sure what was up with that stem. It was definitely before I understood the concept of “stack and reach,” and it also had a small-sized clamp, so I think I just wanted something longer than stock (TWSS), and that’s what was around the house.

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In case you were wondering, that was the first time of many I raced (and had my ass handed to me by) Cary Lowery.

In the years following, it went back to being a SSCX bike. I rode it in a SSCX race at the National Championships in Kansas City (it was a non-championship race, and I raced against the dudes… and Betsy Shogren).

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…and later it became a wannabe mountain bike with a flat bar, a Kenda Karma 2.1 on the front, and some sort of small Bontrager “mountain bike” tire on the back…

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It kinda sat around for a while after that. I got really nice, pimped-out carbon cross bikes, placed 3rd in Masters Worlds a couple of times, then decided that having two full race seasons per year was no longer what I wanted to do. So, I sold the fancy carbon rides, and the Crosscheck was once again my CX steed. This time, with a plethora of “leftovers” from other bikes that had come and gone through the stable:

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I raced it in one or two SSCX It’s basically in the same iteration now, except it’s got my I9 road wheels and a set of fat road tires on it. I use it for a good portion of road training and grocery getting now. For training, I’ve been riding it up Lookout Mountain on a 40×16. It’s a haul, but it’s been an integral part of getting ready for competition team tryouts.

I’ve alluded to it a couple of times, but, since I’m pretty limited on ride time and ability to travel because of Indy’s failing mental health, I’m pouring a lot of energy in to MMA at The Training Camp. Tomorrow afternoon, I’m trying out for the competition team. It’ll open up the opportunity to train and compete in Jujitsu, Muay Thai, and eventually, another go at MMA.

You can find bikes like the Crosscheck pretty easily now, but, at the time, there weren’t many of them. If you’ve got piles of random bike parts around your house, I’d highly recommend dropping a little cash for a frame and making it in to, well, whatever you want… as I have for the past few years as my mood, needs, and interests changed.

Random Recap

The “fun” thing about not posting weekly-ish is that I get to empty interesting photos from my phone and try to string them together in a way that makes some sort of sense/entertainment for you, the reader.

I’ve been a little low on bike motivation for a while. Given Indy’s need for somewhat constant care, I’m not making any large race/travel plans for this summer. I’m not going to board him, and I don’t have the disposable income to pay for personalized dog sitting. So, I’m having to look to other places for opportunities to set goals for the upcoming year.

A couple of weeks ago I watched one of my coaches at the gym win the championship fight for his weight class… in 47 seconds. To see the outpouring of support from the other coaches and students at the gym was incredibly moving. I’m looking forward to trying out for the competition team in two weeks. A sizable portion of the tryout criteria is conditioning. So, I’m trying to get that in however I can, though being sick with two different colds in the span of three weeks sort of put a damper on that.

My two favorite workouts so far are riding the singlespeed up Lookout Mountain…

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…and, of course, riding indoors. Get on, warm up, kill it, cool down. Boom- One hour and you’re done.

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In the meantime, there’s a little bit of change going on with my work situation.

(unrelated pics of SRAM’s Reverb service clinic)

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Once there was a barn dog named Hank (bear with me for just a minute. There’s a point to this story). He wasn’t overly affectionate, but he was cool with most people. For whatever reason, Hank hated me from day one. From the moment I pulled up in the barn parking lot, he would growl and bark and follow me around giving me the stink-eye. No amount of coaxing, squatting, avoiding eye contact, and offers of treats befriended him. Maybe I smelled/looked/sounded like someone who abused him. Maybe he didn’t like the sound of my car. No idea. Lord knows it wasn’t because I don’t love dogs.

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The service manager at the Highlands Ranch Elevation Cycles is a human Hank. Dave is an excellent mechanic, a highly skilled rider, and generally seems like an OK guy. Dave also dislikes me for, well, I have no idea why. So, I’ll spare you the gory details and just say that as of Wednesday, I requested to not work with him any more. Lucky for me, the shop Owner/Management is very understanding, and I very much enjoy the company of my coworkers at the other two shop locations, so I’ll be splitting time between the Downtown Denver and Boulder shops. I think Elevations is a great place, so I’m not going to let one unfriendable person out of a company full of nice people mess that up for me.

Having yesterday off actually turned out to be a really good thing for me. I was able to go to the 6:00 Jiu Jitsu class that I normally can’t go to because of work. It just so happened that it was belt testing/promotion night. I left with two more stripes on my belt than I came in with…

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I know these guys would be proud.

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After the subsequent Muay Thai class, one of the long time students/coaches talked to me about her plans for getting a women’s sparring/training group together. She’s pretty badass, as are the other ladies that are on her short list for the group. I’m honored, for sure.

Help People

It started back in October when I was working at the Elevation Cycles location in Boulder- a man came in the shop asking to use our phone because his friend outside needed an ambulance. Outside, there was a man laying in the grass by the main entrance of the shopping center. I have some first responder training, so, as the guy inside was finishing his conversation with 911, I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves and went outside to help. The guy in need of help was under the influence of god-only-knows what and could barely hold himself upright. I put a hand on his shoulder and asked if he was OK and he eventually sat up on the ground, and his friend sat down next to him and put his arm around him. The guy who had used the phone explained to me how they were homeless, and all they had was each other, and that they watched out for each other. I brought them a cup of water and sat on the ground with them until the police and ambulance showed up, and the really high/drunk dude told me I was the most beautiful angel that he’d ever seen, and his friend (who was not quite as drunk/high) agreed. I laughed and took it as a drunk/high expression of general appreciation.
The part of this story that really hit me hard was the statement the guy made about how he and his friend watched out for each other, and how no one else cared about them.

Yesterday I was leaving Whole Foods, and a man was standing outside, asking random shoppers for help. As I put my cart back in the cart area, I watched someone blow him off and someone else ignore him completely. He approached me and said, “I need help. I’m having a really hard time, and I just need a couple of bucks.” I paused and told him, “Yeah man, I’ll help you out.” I gave him two dollars, and he seemed a little overwhelmed, then held out an arm like he wanted a hug. I gave him a (somewhat tentative) side hug, and he thanked me profusely and walked off down the sidewalk towards the main road. I have no idea where he went or what he had planned for the $2, but I don’t think it really matters. There’s a chance he went straight in to the liquor store that’s next to Whole Foods. He could have used it to get on the bus. No clue.

Since I moved down in to Denver from Blackhawk, I’ve given a few other handouts- either a few bucks or whatever food I had with me- to people obviously in need.

I’m writing about this because it seems like there are so many people who don’t want to help anyone but themselves. There are people who won’t hand out a couple of bucks because they think the person they’re giving it to will spend it on booze or drugs or whatever. My thought is this- no one stands outside a Whole Foods asking for help if their life is totally effing peachy. What they spend the money on doesn’t matter… what matters is that they asked for help, and someone thought they were worth helping. If you strip down the rough appearance and addictions of anyone, they’re human, flesh-and-bone, just like you.

There was a man passed out on the bike path a couple of weeks ago. He was laying motionless in the middle of the path. It’s a well-traveled area, so I’m assuming people had been just riding around him like an inconveniently placed speed bump. I stopped and asked if he was OK. He gave me a thumbs up. There was a big plastic bottle of vodka next to his bag leaned up in the bushes on the side of the path. A couple of days earlier, a customer had tipped me $10, and I had it in my jersey pocket. I handed it to the dude and told him, “next one’s on me, man.” He was really happy and wished me a merry Christmas. That’s the only Christmas present I gave anyone this year. I’m sure he went and bought booze with it. It doesn’t matter.
Empathy- imagine if you screwed up, made bad life decisions, and were homeless and alcoholic. You probably don’t like yourself, don’t care about your well being, and don’t feel like you’re worthy of anyone else caring about your well-being. In my optimistic brain, if enough people show you that you’re worth caring about, maybe you’ll eventually think of yourself as worthy of getting help. Or, you’ll go buy another cheap bottle of vodka. It doesn’t matter, because, at least for a few seconds, that guy felt like someone gave a damn that he looked dead instead of just dodging him like an inanimate object.

When you’re warm and well-fed, empathy can be an uncomfortable feeling to deal with. It’s way easier to ignore someone and/or assume that they have ill intentions and go on about your comfortable life.

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. Don’t give me any “atta girl” comments or anything like that. I don’t even want you to acknowledge to me that you read this. I just want to take advantage of the fact that I have an audience to motivate/encourage people to help other people however you can. Just read this and go do good for other humans who need help.

Adventures on Hold

Aside from a little snow on Christmas Day, the Holiday season came and went with little fanfare. I did go for a quick Christmas day hike up Green Mountain. It’s close to my house, and gives you one of the coolest 360 degree views of Denver and the Front Range.

North towards Boulder:

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South:

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East Towards Denver:

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IPhone pictures don’t really do it justice, of course.

The couple of inches of snow on Christmas day were a good excuse to bundle up and go for another fatbike ride the day after Christmas. I rode it down the Ruby Hill Park sled hill as a bunch of kids cheered me on then hit the South Platte River Trail before the snowplows got there.

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I’d love to take the fatbike to places other than the bike path… bringing me to the point of my post today. Since it got too cold to leave little old Indy out to wander the back yard, I can’t leave him alone for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time because he’s reached an age/level of dementia where he can’t go any longer without pottying on himself in his crate. It’s been hard… there are a couple of nearby winter bike races I’d love to go to and a lot of days where I’ve had the time and good weather to go up into the mountains and explore, but, in reality, Indy needs me more than I need to do those things.

It’s occasionally frustrating, but he’s been my best buddy for over 15.5 years now. I picked him out of the litter when he was the size of a gerbil and his eyes were still closed. I chose him over the others because, as I went through and picked each puppy up, he growled at me (a 2-week-old puppy growl is one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever heard, so I was immediately smitten). He’s been by my side through a lot of really difficult times in my life… more than any person I know. So, he’s 100% worth sacrificing a winter of adventures. I’ve got a lot more winters ahead of me, and he doesn’t. I owe it to him.

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The ability to bring him with me has been the #1 condition of employment at my previous and current jobs-

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On a less “my eyes are feeling leaky” note, please visit your local bike shop. Your bike likely needs a tune-up,  and by bringing it in, you’re preventing boredom that leads to desperate activities such as mopping, campy shifter rebuilding,

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and whatever the hell Brian is doing here…

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Oh yeah, and speaking of bike shops… everyone at mine got one of these at the company holiday party:

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It will likely see the sidelines of the gym before it sees the trail. I’m having a blast training MMA again. It’s definitely helping to maintain some fitness while it’s cold/dark.

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I have a lot of incredible training partners (one of which has an incredibly bony back that I hit my chin on when we were drilling takedowns/sprawls). Most of them are bigger and/or stronger than me, but I’m used to that from back when I started road biking and would go on the hammerfest group rides with the dudes who raced a lot. It was hard as hell, but it only made me better.
I’ve figured out that the hammering you get on a group ride is way more ego-driven than one you get with good training partners practicing MMA. On the bike, it’s very much wanting to inflict pain on your group-mates, drop people, and show off how much stronger you are than them. In the gym, when you’re doing it right, the goal is to make both you and your training partner better. You can train solo to be fast on a bike. You can’t train solo for combat sports, and you can’t improve very far past the ability of your training partner.

The saying at the gym is, “Together, we are stronger.” It’s a beautiful thing.

Snow Days

I’m pretty sure that the people who watch the weather in the Denver Metro area stay high on legal weed 24/7. Since it started getting cold, any time there’s imminent snow, there’s some sort of winter weather advisory. However, Tuesday morning, Indy woke me up at 5:30 to potty, and as I was stumbling half-asleep through the house to take him out, I wondered, “why the hell is it so bright in here?” Then, I looked out the back window and saw that there was a blanket of snow on everything.

Nothing like shoveling the porch at 5:30am in a snow storm to let your dog know you love him.

We ended up getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10″ (TWSS)
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Lucky for me, I’d brought a demo fat bike home from work a couple of days before that. My original plan had been to go ride up Rollins Pass, but I couldn’t leave Indy alone for that long, so I ended up not going. I set out on some of the less-busy roads and bike paths near my house.

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They snow plow the paths here. It’s pretty sweet. I did figure out pretty quickly that trying to ride through unplowed powdery snow is basically impossible. My take on fat bikes based on my 2.5 hour initial ride is this- no bike is great at riding in the snow, it’s just that a fat bike is the least sucky of all bikes to ride in snow. I’d like to try one on trail sometime this winter.

I think the flask is a pretty important part of the riding attire

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Taking on Winter without going a little stir crazy has been a little bit of a challenge. Luckily, the weather usually isn’t too bad. Sometimes, I grab an occasional night ride after work.

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Sometimes, I work on my ground and pound.

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Working in a bike shop over winter is an exercise in keeping yourself busy/entertained.

I got to check out a SRAM ETap bike the other day. I like it. I’m on the last gen 2×10 SRAM Red right now, and it’s great. I’m going to hold out until ETap has been revised at least once and is available at the Rival level before I consider upgrading.

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Speaking of upgrades… I upgraded a Speed Concept tri bike the other day.

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If you don’t know what #onelessarmadillo is, you are missing out. Check out the Just Riding Along podcast on Mountain Bike Radio, and you’ll also hear about that, as well as the McSnuggie:

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Don’t listen to the podcast if you’re my mom.