Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

Oct 19, 2011

Time to say good bye

Isis snuggled in the quilts on the bed
It's amazing how much our pets can touch us and influence our lives. When I got Isis (although I think she picked me) she was a scrawny six pound alley cat who'd been dumped at the vet with her kittens. She was scared of everything and everyone except for me. We were a duo - she aways snuggled, slept with me and kept me company. I played with her, made sure the food bowl was always full (part of the reason she got up to 16 pounds...) I'd come home from PT class with a pile of homework, a lab exam to study for and three projects. She'd meet me at the door with a meow and take my mind off of the stress of the day with her throaty purr and antics like eating my sweet potato off my plate. When I was in Spokane for one of my clinical, Isis stayed with Mom. Mom told me when I go home that she'd never seen a more unhappy cat for those two months.

I'm too comfortable to play - but that looks fun.
Fast forward a year and I moved in with Nick. Isis was not happy about that. She had to share me for attention and there was this strange guy who wanted to torture her. It took a few months, but she finally accepted Nick and tolerated DumDum. The four of us slowly became a family, with Isis begging Nick for her daily beating and being perfectly happy snuggling with either one of us.Sometimes, I think she was starting to love Nick more..He gave her more "junk" food, like chicken and cheese. I just gave her the diet food so we could get her weight down to a healthy range. Her skittishness was fading as well, as she stopped running in terror when we had company. The vacuum cleaner still sent her flying... She went through three moves- once to Golden, back to the condo and finally to the new house. She took everything with the resilience of her alley cat heritage.

This is the life - snoozing in the sun...
 Back in July, I posted about the tumor on her shoulder. Well, she'd started developing more and more tumors, ranging from small lumps in her arm pits, neck and chest to another large one on her left hip. I knew time was getting short - she wasn't playing like she used too and wasn't eating much. I started giving her canned food and that helped for a while. But in the last weeks, she started having more trouble. She wasn't moving her tail at all - just letting it hang behind her legs. That was a major change from her normal behavior. Then in the last few days, she was having problems with her rear legs. Stumbling when she was walking at times, loosing her balance. Not sitting as smoothly and having problems getting up at times. She wouldn't come downstairs with us at night and growled at me when I brought her down to bed. Monday when I got home from work, she was sitting at the bottom of the stairs, looking at me like "I need some help here, please?" She tried the first few stairs, but was stumbling and having problems with getting her rear paws on the stairs. For someone who used to drag race up the stairs when we put fresh food in the bowl, I knew. Tuesday, she was meowing for food, but not sitting to eat. She'd go into the litter box, paw around, then walk out and paw the carpet some more. And this morning....

I worked hard to get here! Relaxing on an old box spring
I couldn't stand the look in her eyes. She was pacing around the kitchen, stumbling just a little, going to sit, but not making it down. In her favorite sunbeam, she couldn't move her rear legs well enough to get comfortable and couldn't get up easily to go to a different spot in the sun. And she just kept looking at me, a frustrated, pleading look. She wasn't happy at all. And things were going to get worse as the tumor on her hip and all over her body kept impairing her mobility. The last thing I wanted was for my baby to suffer - and she was suffering. It was time... Saying good bye is aways the hardest, but I didn't want her to be in pain or not be able to get around. Anything else would to not show her the respects she deserved.

Oct 17, 2011

The view from the pits - 24 Hours of Colorado Springs

The 2011 24 Hours of Colorado Springs proved to be quite the adventure before the race even started. After a successful first year on the Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy, plans were made for the National Championships and another fun time riding up Stanley Canyon. Then things changed and we weren't even sure of a venue for the 24 Hours of COS. So a huge congratulations to the race director and organizing committee for securing a fun and challenging venue in the middle of Colorado Springs. This year it truly was the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs, set at a favorite play ground - Palmer Park. I rode one lap two weeks before the event and while it seemed "easy" for Palmer Park, but after a few laps it would be challenging. A good mix of technical riding, fun single track and fast double track that didn't provide much respite.

On race day however, I wouldn't get much more then a quarter of a mile from the camper. This is a race report about crewing for a solo rider. Nick was racing in the solo single speed, harboring hopes of defending his win from 2010. But it was not to be - with some very fast racers showing up for a shot at the Stars and Stripes combined with some stomach issues that kept him off the bike for over 4 hours. At noon, Evan Plews had completed 18 laps, AJ Liddell turned 17 laps and Andrew Carney rounded out the top three with 15 laps. Nick took fourth with a respectable 12 laps and John Wu placed 5th, also with 12 laps. I think in the end, the true winner of the race was the challenging course as many riders called it day early into the event.

Oct 13, 2011

Under the Hunter's Moon

Autumn - the days get shorter and the riding weather turns crisp. And that means it's time to break out the lights and find some friends to ride with! Tracy, Kristi and I met up for a fun ride up Buckhorn and down Jacks on Wednesday, looking forward to some tight and fun trails - thanks to all the rain and snow from last weekend. Meeting at the main Stratton parking lot, we meandered up the single track to Goldcamp road under the light of the setting sun. There weren't many clouds, but the ones that lingered were tinged with fuchsia and gold. The line of the horizon out east was deepening into a rich purple as the sun vanished behind the mountains. And the the moon peaked up from the edge of the earth - gleaming orange and huge over the city below. A beautiful start to the ride!

We hit Gold Camp and set our sights on Buckhorn. There was hardly any traffic on the road at that hour - meaning we could take up the entire road and ride in the smoothest part. I still had my annoying tail light set to blink - just in case. We turned lights on just after the parking lot, the white beams illuminating the darkness. The full moon was still hidden behind the mountains, so we couldn't take advantage of natural light. As usual, there was the normal adjustment to the narrow focus of the lights and we started up the single track. I love riding Buckhorn at night - the trail seems so narrow and the mountain falls away on the side into emptiness. We had a steady, comfortable pace up the trail, enjoying the solitude but making enough noise to scare away any hunters... A quick stop at the top to get some warmer clothes on, then time for the fun.

Me and Tracy - at the bottom of Jacks. That was fun!!
Photo - Kristi O
 And Jacks was in great shape. Combined with the moisture in the air and the rain from the weekend, it was awesome. And by now, we were making so much noise we were probably terrified all the animals around! But it was good noise - hooting, hollering, the sound of tires launching off rocks... Watching Tracy and Kristi's lights bouncing up and down on the whoops was funny - like a disco show behind me! No other riders out on the trail meant we could go as fast as we wanted. Something we all took advantage of coming down Chutes! Then the ride was over and it was time to head for home. All three of us were sporting huge grins and looking forward to next week!

Oct 10, 2011

Bear it All Tri er Du -postponed

Or Winter picked the wrong weekend to make an appearance. I was supposed to race in the Bear it All Triathlon on Sunday. It sounded like a fun race to close out the season with a 1500 swim, a 24m bike and 5.6 mile run. Well, as the forecasted morning low temp started plummeting the race director made the call to change to a run/bike/run duathlon instead. A smart move - I know how hard it was to try and run after swimming in 53 degree water when the air temp was mid 40s. I could not imagine trying to ride in those conditions. I like feeling my fingers and toes while riding! So I was looking forward to a du - since swapping swim for run wouldn't affect my race that much. Then winter moved in with snow and rain all along the front range. Nick and I loaded up the turtle and headed north, hopeful the weather would improve.

Got my packet and a campsite and headed out to preride. It was fun - a little mud and some puddles, but nothing I couldn't handle. Especially since I was on my single speed. For the first 20 minutes of the ride, the trail was fast and smooth, made tight by the rain and snow. Then we hit mud - deep mud, bad clay mud. I was doing good, then I couldn't pedal the bike. I just watched the tires expand - so caked in clay that I couldn't even turn the wheels. The melvin on the rear wheel was was also coated in clay. I tried a few times to clean off the wheels and frame so I could ride, but it was a loosing battle. Besides, I couldn't even get going because my shoes and cleats were covered in gunk. I eventually picked up my bike and carried it until the clay diminished. Cross racer I am not! I like riding - not carrying my bike! There were three more sections of just atrociach clay on the trail. Finally, about halfway through the lap, we threw in the towel and got on the road. Not worth it. When we got back to the camper, it took over an hour to get the bikes clean. Yuck. My only hope was that the temperature got cold enough for the muck to freeze. Then the course might be ridable - at least for the first lap. Then as the sun rose and the air warmed...

So I was not surprised to get the email stating that the race was postponed. I just couldn't imagine trying to race under those conditions. And I knew that the trails would get really damaged if we tried to race. I have to applaud Tom with Bear Events on making a tough call. I'm sure it wasn't easy - he had put a lot of work into making this first year event a success. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and the race will go on as planned (as a duathlon still) on October 30th. I'm still planning on heading up there for a fun, fast race. That course looked like it would be fun!

Oct 5, 2011

Xterra USA 2011 Race Report

The trail from Pineview - a great day for racing
Photo - Nick Thelen
 Another perfect Utah day provided the backdrop for the racing action at Xterra USA. The new bike course lent to speedy times despite the climb, while the technical run course kept racers on their toes. Spectators lining the course, hoping for a glimpse of Lance Armstrong, were treated to a battle royal on the men's side and a commanding performance by Melanie on the women's side. She laid it down on the bike and finished in 2:43:00. Lesie Patterson made a last minute charge on the run, but took second in 2:45:59. Danelle Kabush had a strong performance to finish third in 2:47:43, with Kelly Cullen (2:49:20) and Emma G (2:52:01) rounding out the top five. I had strong swim, a decent bike (but well off the pace off the rest of the women) and a really solid run to finish 13th pro and 17th overall. I had hoped for a top ten finish this year, but it was not to be. But I still had a solid race and a good springboard towards the next season.

Oct 4, 2011

24 hrs of COS

Top four Solo Single speed on the podium
Carney, Plews, Liddell, Nick
Photo - Tim Bergsten
The 24 hours of Colorado Springs, the 2011 USAC 24hr MTB National Championships is in the books. Nick raced this year and I handled support crew for him. He took fourth in the Solo Men Single Speed behind Evan Plews (18 laps), AJ Liddell (17 laps) and Andrew Carney (15 laps). Nick had a decent race and persevered though some tough physical issues that had him wanting to quit at 1:00 am. Doing support for him was as hard as racing! I'll have some notes from the race up soon.