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...

Nov 30, 2012

Night Time at Red Rocks

I should know better then to try to lead a group ride at Red Rocks - I rarely ride there during the day and only know a few of the trails really well. So when Nick asked if I wanted chaperons (him and Cameron) for yesterday's ride, I quickly agreed. Stacy and Lonna don't usually ride there either and having the boys around would be good. They know all the trails and the easiest ways to connect between singletrack fun. With that said, it was the perfect night to ride at Red Rocks.

As we started on the first section of single track - Codell's trail, a newish trail that traces the top of one of the ridges, we were treated to the moon rise. The just past full moon gleamed pumpkin orange, ringed by low clouds. There were plenty of times I had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the trail instead of moon watching! A chilly wind cut through the air, but otherwise it was a perfect night for ride. Codell's is a fun trail and riding it at night was cool. One of the few trails in the area with white rocks and those rocks reflected our lights brilliantly. Night riding is a lot of fun and it's even better when there's fun people around to enjoy it

After the singletrack of Codell's it was time for a long dirt road climb that gave us all a chance to catch up. Stacy had plenty of tales from her Arizona adventures over Thanksgiving. There were a few more lights down below us, but we really had the trails to ourselves. Awesome - and the noise of the city was muffled by the clouds. We decided to ride the Hog's Back - a fun, rocky trail. It's one of those where you can't ride easy - you have to power through the rock gardens, but keep an eye on the timing of pedal strokes to be able to clean it. I frequently ride that trail to work on my technical skills and balance at slow speeds. But it's different at night - no distractions. Just me and the ribbon of rock filled single track. Focus on the trail and where you want to put your bike.

Once we dropped back down into the quarry area and Red Rocks proper, I started seeing wildlife. A fox ran up the trail in front of us for a while - I got a good glimpse of his bushy tail and red fur. There were plenty of deer bedding down for the night, at least two large herds. They all stared at us, watching us riding by. At first, all I could see were the eyes, glowing in the night. But looking closer, the rest of the animal could be seen. Some of them were sitting down, so it just looked like a field of eyes in the grass. I did see one other predator set of eyes - the forward set, both eyes staring at me in the darkness was the give away. Bigger then a fox, but all I caught was the short glimpse.... Most likely a coyote! Nick, Cam and I got serenaded by a pack of coyotes as we rode through Bear Creek to get home!

Next week - another night ride, but with new trails to explore.

Nov 25, 2012

Camper trials

At some point in time, we'd like to be able to take the cats with us camping. I don't leaving them home alone - they always seem so depressed when we leave and so skittish when we get home. So we've been gradually getting everyone ready for a camper trip. Step 0 was really the harnesses. We got harnesses for all of the cats - blue for Sasha, red for Dum Dum and pink for George. The first few times we harnessed them up was funny. George didn't seem to mind at all, but the other two acted like they were paralyzed. So silly. But know, they all seem to be handling the harnesses well. Sasha is even back to playing with her harness on.

So onto step 1 - introducing them to the camper! Parked in the front yard, not going anywhere... We got it all nice and warm, took the litter box out and some food and water out. Then time for the cats. Loaded them up in the carriers and out we went. And the meow choir began. All three of them - whining and meowing like crazy. George was of course the first one to settle down, figure out how to get up to the bed and get comfy. Dum Dum was next, after he ate all the canned food we brought out for them. Sasha - well, she never really got settled. She cuddled up in my lap, alternately purring and shaking. So after three hours, we headed inside. It's a start.

Step 2? An overnight trip in the front yard! Should be exciting, but I think we'll keep working on step one for a while...

Nov 23, 2012

Time to run

November certainly flew by. It seems just yesterday I was talking with friends about the Rock Canyon Half Marathon and deciding to sign up. And now the race is just a week away. Wow. Am I ready to run a half marathon? I think so, actually I'm pretty sure I'm ready. I've done plenty of good workouts in the last few weeks. A few long runs and some really solid interval sessions. I've seen some good times on the Garmin on the last two workouts and know I can run a solid race. Pacing will be an issue. Because of the low running workload this year, I won't be able to get away with starting too fast and hoping to hold on. Starting smart and steadily building will be the best way to finish with a solid time. Hopefully I will be able to match last year's time.

I'm also bringing all my warm clothes again. Last year, with the shoe and wind and sub freezing temps was a bit of a challenge. It will be a little easier to plan since I am driving down race morning this year instead of staying down in Pueblo. But there can be such a difference between Colorado Springs and Pueblo I still want all my options. And that means a bag full of clothes! No matter what the weather, I'm looking forward to the race. It's time to be a runner again!

Nov 22, 2012


Watching all the ads on TV has gotten me thinking. We aren't allowed to celebrate holidays anymore - at least not in the traditional way. Instead it's all about the shopping and getting the best deals on junk you don't need and probably can't afford. I don't remember which store it was for,  but the ad with the turkey throwing the car keys in the middle of the dinner was disturbing to me. I mean, really? Is trying to gather friends and family together for a nice dinner that wrong? It's rare to even sit down as a family without electronic interruptions - let us have one day of silence and togetherness. The other thing I found disturbing about that commercial was the emphasis on more, more,  more. It is not enough to be happy and thankful for what we have any more. It is always out dated or just not in style Unless what you have doesn't work anymore is another of the same thing really needed? I would say no. And the disposability of today's items makes us less appreciative of what we do have.

So instead of hitting the stores on thanksgiving I'm gonna enjoy my day off. I will go for my run - thankful that I can and that there are great places to run in this town. Both on the roads and the trails - there are hills, level terrain and everything in between. If I take my bike out, there's lots to be thankful for. My husband for riding with me and his patience as I've gotten more skilled and faster. The fact that we have such good equipment - riding is lots of fun, but it's even more fun with the right tools for the trails. And the trails in Colorado Springs. From Palmer Park to Stratton Open Space, we have such variety of trails and plenty of space to ride. And since it's pretty cloudy right now, I am also thankful that we've been able to afford the warm riding gear I have. It's opened up the season beyond the summer to be able to ride under all conditions.

Closer to home, I'll make a dessert to bring over to my Mom's for dinner. We don't always get along, but it's nice when we do. It's also nice that she spend so much time with me when I was younger - simple tasks like fixing booties and playing in the kitchen aren't so intimidating anymore. I'll call my Dad - he live in OK and I don't see him that much now, but I'm happy that we've been able to build a relationship now. I'll get some quality time with my kittens (at over a year, they aren't kittens anymore) thankful that we have such sweet girls which such huge personalities. I'll also remember my Isis and be thankful those happy memories.

And Friday, instead of going crazy spending money on things I don't need, I'll go to work and be thankful about my health. Sometimes bad things happen to healthy people, but a lot of what I see could be so easily minimized through a simple, healthy life.

Nov 20, 2012

St Mary's

I know one day the snow will come. I'm actually looking forward to a few nice, snowy days and the moisture is badly needed. All the trails are loose and dry - sand surfing on the kitty litter is a needed skill. But until we get some snow, the big rides in the canyon are still on. We held off one weekend doing the planned ride up to St Mary's because of the weather and bike issues. The brain and shock on my Era needed some major work, so I was riding my HT. Not a bike Nick wanted me to take down St Mary's. So with a working suspension and nice weather forecasted, we headed up this Saturday.

There's snow and ice up high - but not enough to keep us from riding!
As usual, the climb up Gold Camp was long. I was working hard, trying to keep up with Nick and Matt. But the sluggishness and gunk in my legs from the cold were gone, so I was able to settle into a solid tempo. The boys still pulled away as we climbed, but I wasn't getting completely dropped. It was chilly in the shade, with all the streams frozen over and patches of snow. But in the sun, it was warm. I didn't even need my arm warmers. We stopped once for a snack, then continued up Old Stage. I popped on old Stage. I was tired and the break on Gold Camp made me stiffen up a little. Nick kept trying to push and tow me back to Matt's wheel, but to no avail. The turn off to Wy Campground couldn't come soon enough.

Nick and Matt (hidden in the trees) waiting for me to cross the frozen stream
But after the climb came the fun. We bundled up for the ride down St Mary's, knowing it was mostly in the shade. I was third wheel, giving myself lots of space. The first creek crossing was completely snowed and iced over. Nick broke the ice when he crossed. There was some more snow, a few inches deep in places, and a few more iced over creeks. The trail was so much fun - and having suspension back made it even better. I was riding everything - until we got to the switchbacks. I tried a few over again, but wasn't having much luck. I only made one of that set of steep switchbacks. There was plenty more walking to come as we got onto the middle section. Lots of tight turns and big rocks I wasn't willing to try even with suspension! But there were other sections that I rode confidently - even with a hiker audience! I was talking away, but what I wanted to ride, I made. And I had a big grin the whole time!

We finished off the day with some more fun descents and playing in Stratton. After that, it was time to give both my bikes a bath. The Fate to keep clean for intervals and such and the Era to get ready for some more abuse, er single track fun!

Nov 17, 2012

Time for a Change

After two years sporting the red and white of Ascent Cycling, Nick and I have decided it's time for a change. We parted ways with Ascent in early October. It's been a good two years, but it was time to move on. I'm happy we had the opportunity to meet and race with the Ascent gang. It's a good group of guys and gals who like to ride their bikes almost as much as they like talking about riding. I'm also happy we parted ways on such good terms and with the high of our second place at the 24 Hour Mountain Bike National Championships in our back yard.

Obviously, a change like this required a lot of thought. Nick and I spent many hours discussing our options and where we wanted to go - both team wise and for our riding and racing. In the end, there were a number of things that factored into our decision to leave Ascent, including the possibility of Nick working for another shop in town. I don't feel it is needed to go into details, but we happy with our choice and looking forward to the 2013 season. I do need to say thanks to Clay and Patrick for all the support over the last two years. I wish them the best of luck at the shop and on the bike.

Nov 15, 2012

Ginger Glazed Cranberry Scones

Cranberries are one of the joys of the fall season. There's nothing like the sweet tartness of homemade cranberry sauce to recall holidays and gatherings past. Since I don't have a huge family and the holidays weren't a big affair, I make just make cranberry sauce from the time the berries appear in the store to when they vanish come January. But I limited my cranberry adventures to just sauce - sometimes with a little orange or a touch of ginger. I'd never tried baking with cranberries before. So these scones were a pleasant surprise - combining all the things I love about cranberries in a light and yummy scone. Add in the ginger orange glaze and they are perfect for a holiday brunch or a not so sweet dessert.

Pre heat oven to 375 and grease a large baking sheet

In small bowl, combine and let sit:
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberries
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp orange juice

In a separate bowl, mix:
2 cups flour (combining types is okay)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (if making gluten free)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt

Cut in, mixing until resembles fine bread crumbs:
1/4 cup butter

Add cranberry mixture to flour mix and stir to coat.
Beat together:
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

Add to fruit and flour mix and stir gently. Make either 12 small biscuits or two large rounds. If making round, score each round into sixths.
Bake in pre heated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

While scones are baking, make the glaze.
In small bowl, mix:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp ginger

Add and mix till smooth:
2 tbsp hot water
1tbsp orange juice

Add more water or sugar until glaze is a honey like consistency.

When scones have cooled slightly, drizzle glaze over tops. It helps to do this while the scones are on the wire rack, but over a cutting board as the glaze will dribble off the sides.


Nov 14, 2012

the absence of disease

A long time ago - either while in undergrad or PT school, I read an interesting definition of health and being healthy. Since I spent last week fighting off an early seasons cold, it seemed very applicable. I don't remember the source or context, but it still rings true.

Health is the absence of disease or a condition when there is nothing wrong or unusual happening in the body.

Think about it - do you notice when you are healthy? waking up saying "Man, I feel healthy today." Not usually - but you definitely notice when you are not healthy. You don't feel awesome working out when things are going good and don't pay attention to little signs. But when an injury has laid you low, things aren't "right." So its a perfect definition - the absence of disease.

Working in health care makes me appreciate my own absence of disease. I see a whole rang of people -from those who know they are sick and want to get better to those who have no clue. There are patients who realize they are sick but just don't care and others who don't even think they are sick. I like the first group the best - the ones who realize that something has effected their state of health and want to get better. no matter how hard they are to move and transfer. They have a goal and are willing to work hard to get there. I might joke about torturing old people, but most of the time it's very rewarding. Returning people to that balance - the absence of disease.

Nov 12, 2012

A great day for trespassing

Winter time for Nick and I means its time to think about Colorado's favorite illegal trail. The Manitou Incline. As a native, I actually remember there being a train running up those ties. And I even had the opputuniety to ride the Incline a few times. Mostly when I was training for the Pikes Peak Ascent and didn't feel like running down Mount Manitou. But now, its a series of brutal steps up to the top of Mount Manitou. Still technically Illegal and trespassing but a really good workout and lots of "fun." I've only done it a few times and usually when the snow is flying and the temperatures below freezing.

So with a chilly sun and neither one of use feeling ready to bundle up and ride in the cold, we headed to Manitou. There were already plenty of people out hiking but less then on normal fall days. I was still feeling a little under the weather from my cold so just hikes. Even just hiking was hard. Those steps aren't designed for short legs. I remembered reading that the fastest method was to double the middle and lower ties. Tried for a while but it wasn't any easier. And I wasn't moving fast at all! So back to hiking.

Finally at the top and we took the longer way to Barr Trail. I ran ahead if Nick and turned around every so often to hike back up. Since I've been running, it was easier then trying to stay together. I also remembered why I only did the Marathon once! I don't much care for running down hill for that long! Harder on the legs then running uphill! But what goes up must come down. I'm sure the down part will get better S we do the incline a few more times this year. But only when the snow flies!

Nov 10, 2012

Wait five minutes....

When I was growing up, the favorite saying was "wait five minutes and the weather will change." It was a reference to how hard forecasting the weather in Colorado Springs can be and how volatile the weather is. Well, today was definitely a "wait five minutes" kinda ride. We went to bed with the idea to go big and get another solid day in on (for me) some new, fun trails. Woke up to grey, overcast and a smattering of rain and those plans changes. We opted to still have a big day up in the mountains, but to not stray quite so far a Field. With the clouds and the off and on rain, getting miles from Gold Camp and a quick bail to home didn't seem all that smart. Meeting up with Cam in the Stratton parking lot and we all decided on the back-up plan. Still fun, but not as big a day.

Then came the weather changes. When we pedaled up the Chutes, it was grey, cool and windy. But at the top of the Chutes, the sun had chased the clouds away, revealing crisp blue skies. It was still chilly, but the sun was awesomely warm. Nick and I both took off our vests and I took off my arm warmers for the trek up Gold Camp. We went in and out of clouds as we rode - I'm sure the boys were riding pretty easy - I was really tired and wasn't feeling spunky at all. Up over St Mary's Tunnel and while we still had sun, the snow level was pretty low. If we went as high as we were still planning, we might hit some snow. That got the boys talking. We did a little side trail off Gold Camp, then our plans got changed for us.

The wind picked up, gusting freezing air through the trees. As we got back on Gold Camp, the air filled with sleet, visibility limited by the thick clouds and snow. Yeah - not riding any higher with that blowing in! Backtracking in howling wind and snow to Blue Columbine, we all bundled up. Hat, warm gloves, Gore jacket, the works. I was perfectly comfortable on the St Mary's drop, nice and warm with all my layers. At the top of the tunnel, the boys decided to head back up and drop a trail I didn't feel like riding on my HT. So off they went and I dropped down to Buckhorn.  Still sleeting, still gusting wind and cold.  I thought about taking a few layers off for the climb up Buckhorn, but decided not to. Clouds still filled the air.

Well, halfway up Buckhorn, then sun came out again and I was roasting. It was back to summertime riding and I was dressed for winter. Made it to the top still under full sun and decided to take my jacket off and put my vest back on. I knew I was going down for a while, but I was so warm with the Gore jacket. And the sun was still out and it was warm again. I had a comfortable and relaxed run down Jacks - not chasing Nick I was able to ride at my own pace. I stopped a few times to look at the clouds - to the north and west, dark and ominous clouds blanketed the mountains while to the east and south blue sky reined. I wish I'd had the camera with me - iPhone photos just don't do justice to the intricacies of the sky under those conditions. Just as I finished up Jacks, the clouds descended lower and snow started gusting in with the wind. I made quick work of Chutes and bolted home through Stratton. Home, safe and sound and all bundled up with some hot tea! I know the boys had plenty of warm clothes and judging by the grey wall across the mountains, they might need all of them!

Nov 8, 2012

Off the Wall

For the last two winters, our method of cross training has been bouldering. We go to the climbing gym - not to climb up, but across the walls. Its loads of fun, great strengthening and an awesome dynamic activity. Propreoception, motor planning and balance are all challenged while hanging on the wall. Or more accurately, trying not to fall off the wall! Skinny armed cyclists with muscles legs tend to stand out just a little among the shiftless convention of the other boulderers. We are rather bottom heavy, which does not make for great climbing. But fun is the point and so is getting out of the house during the winter months.

Bouldering uses a 0-10 scale for rating how difficult the problems are. The smaller the numbers, the easier the problem. So a v0 is like a ladder on the wall and a v10 is like.... well I've never climbed a v10 so I don't know! Harder then most people can do. Us poor cyclists must give the real climbers something to laugh about as we flail about on the v1 and v2 routes. We make it look so hard and awkward, I'm sure. I am always excited when I can clean a v3! Meanwhile the real climbers are dancing about on their heels and fingers, floating along the wall on thier v7s and v8s. One day - maybe we might be that graceful on the v3s. But then again, the real climbers probably couldn't ride down half the trails we call fun!

Nov 6, 2012

End of Daylight Savings or the return of the sunrise

It's always funny - the first days after the fall back. Sunday morning, everyone is so excited about the extra hour of sleep and the light in the mornings. But as the darkness creeps across the land earlier then expected, those same people start complaining loudly about the loss of light. Maybe I just noticed it more this year on Twitter and such. I know people complain every year about falling back and the early sunset, but I was also seeing the "real time" exultation's about the sunrise in the morning.

I'm a morning person - I like getting up, getting things done early. Over the last few weeks, with the sunrise approaching 7:30, it's been hard to get motivated and get up. Darkness does that to you! It just feels really early since the sun isn't peaking above the horizon yet. Running before work has been fun, getting home before the sun even rises. I love the peace and quiet of early morning runs, but the the animals still out and about, it's a little unnerving. I had to break out the 400 lumen Exposure Lights Joystick to light up the dawn on my last few runs! So it was really nice to be able to run this morning and have sunshine on the mountains before I started.

And yes, it does get depressing to be coming home from work in the darkness. It makes it hard to get that second workout or fun ride done if things get crazy. I tend to retreat to the garage most evenings at this time - night riding alone, as I've said before isn't smart. (Which really makes me wonder - aren't most animals more active at dawn then dusk?) We have plenty of lights and I do like the night riding. It's finding partners to ride with after dark that proves to be challenging. The garage might not be as fun, but I don't have to worry about cars! It's all temporary anyway - in a few months, we'll have all the light we want, as well as the heat of summer

Nov 5, 2012

Getting Dirty at the Du - Cafe Velo Dirty Du

Sometimes deciding to do a local race at the last minute is the best decision. I had been on the fence about doing the CES Cafe Velo Dirty Duathlon for several weeks - one day I'd been feeling spunky, so I was all gungho, the next day dragging and not wanted to race at all. Just starting to get my running back was another concern keeping me from signing up. But after two solid runs this week and a really fun TallBoy ride on Friday, I was all in. And it turned out to be a great day for a race. It was fun to see so many members of the local MTB crowd stepping outside the box and giving multisport a try. With an "about" three mile run, nine mile bike and another "about" three mile run, it was a short and sweet event. I pushed the pace a little to take the lead in the women's race on the first run and was able to hold on until the finish line in 1:21:57. Jayson and Colorado Endurance Sports did (as usual) a fantastic job with race and the post race party at Cafe Velo from Bird Dog BBQ was yummy.

Since I hadn't had a chance to pre-ride the course, I showed up pretty early. My plan was to use my pre-ride as the warm up and then check out the run course if I still had time. The bike was a short four mile loop that we would ride twice, so I wasn't concerned about overdoing the warm up. It was a pretty fun loop to - I don't ever really ride in Ute Valley Park, so all the trails were new. There was nothing crazy - a few steep rocks that were all roll-able, a sustained and somewhat technical sandstone climb and plenty of rock gardens for some added fun. Something that would be challenging for many beginners but no so tame it would be boring for other races. After the pre-ride, I still had some time to kill and wasn't feeling quite warmed up enough so I headed out to look at the run course. Well, I didn't scope it out at all because I got to the first hill and said "Not riding up that right now!" Steep, rocky and really loose - looked the run course would be the hardest part of the race!

Well, that and figuring out what to wear. It was sunny and nice out, but not warm at all. I'd been pretty bundled up for my pre-ride and my hands just about froze. I'd brought just about every option of clothes with me that morning (amazing how much crap I can get into my transition bag without the wetsuit in tow!) I knew that it would be warmer during the race, but trying to ride a bike with frozen hands isn't the easiest of tasks. With a run first though, I needed to be comfortable while running and not starting the bike wet. I opted to just wear my tri shorts, a short sleeved top and arm warmers for the first run, putting on my vest for the bike, then taking both the vest and arm warmers off for the second run. It was a good combination of clothes - my hands were a little chilly on the first run, but I was never too warm or two cold.

Out on the first run leg
Photo - Bob Kane -
As 10:00 ticked closer, the racers gathered on the track for the mass start. Transition was full of bikes and the friends and family members provided plenty of spectators. Shouting "go" Jayson released the herd onto the track and out into the park. I had good start and was heading out to the single track in a solid position. Not know what to expect on that first run was awesome. I kept my eyes on the orange flagging, the rocky trail and the racers around me. I was in a pretty good group of guys, including Larry Dewitt. At the top of the loose climb I'd opted not to ride, the trail leveled out a little and traversed halfway down the ridgeline. We were heading northwest, rolling along, dodging trees and rocks. True fun, singletrack trail running. I was running faster then I'd anticipated but felt really good and was just enjoying the flow of the trail. After about a mile, we dropped down a small cliff to the water station. Some easier running for a bit then time for real cross country! Goat trails make for the best fun - running and riding. I was still in sight of Matt, so I knew I was running well. A few more technical sections of trail, then it opened up before the last climb to the track and into transition.

Starting the bike with a smile
Photo - Tim Bergsten
I was in the lead as I swapped from running to cycling. I hadn't practiced transitions at all and was a little slow, but got it done and was out onto the double track to start the ride. I was really looking forward to the bike course and being able to fly down some of those rock faces. I was also high enough up in the field that I didn't have to worry about passing or being passed by too many other riders. I think two guys passed me on the first lap and I passed three and three passed me on the second lap. On that first lap, I let one guy around just before the start of the sandstone rock climb. He got slowed by another rider and I caught back up. The work on my balance skills paid off as I was able to stay on my bike after they bobbled a rock section. Without having to get back on, get clipped in again, I was able to punch it and make the pass really easily. There were a few other times I took harder lines to make passes, feeling  pretty comfortable that I'd be able to ride it and make it look good. A few of the men seemed pretty impressed - one of them said I was flowing down the rock gardens with grace and another called me a monster who just attacked the rocks with confidence. Love compliments like that, but it just gives me incentive to work harder and get smoother. Smooth is fast and fast is smooth! One lap around the track, then back out into the course. I was smoother this time - had a better feel for the rocks and the lines. We lapped a few riders and started to see the daily Ute Valley users out and about. And amazingly - everyone who was there, hiking, running or walking the dogs were so respectful of the race. They all stepped off the trail and started cheering for us when we passed. I was doing a good job of maintain my position in the race and was getting ready for that second run.

Heading out for the second lap
Photo - Bob Kane -

Attacking the hill to start the second lap
Photo - Bob Kane -
There were two women ahead of me on the second run, but they were both on relay teams. I could see the pink shirts in the distance. I headed out, feeling surprisingly good. None of that heavy lead legs feeling like at Curt Gowdy earlier this year. I started picking off the men in front of me, one by one - but my goal were the two women in the distance. The steep climbs hurt a little more on that second trip up - I ended up walking just a little. But once on the traverse, it was back to running and loving the technical trail. My running legs were back and I was able to keep the pace high. No issues with the trail or with running. It's aways nice to be able to run well after the bike and having a fun trail to run on made it even better. I caught one of the two women right after the second water station, but it didn't look like I would be able to catch the other one. She was already on the flats, moving out fast. I was still making up ground, but I was running out of room. Oh well. But it was still a fantastic race and I was thrilled to reclaim my Dirty Du title from 2010.
Last climb of the race
Photo - Bob Kane -

As usual, the race was great. We lucked out with perfect weather for November. The course was well marked and lots of fun. There were plenty of volunteers all over, making sure things ran smoothly. The transition area was well marked and traffic control around the track was outstanding. I've said it before - Colorado Endurance Sports works really hard to put together fun events that get everyone involved. I saw a lot a familiar faces out on course and with the addition of relays, there were even more people raring to go. I'm sure this race will continue to grow and may even need to have a racer limit in the near future!

Nov 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

A planned girls night ride and party for Halloween turned into a solo adventure for me, myself and I. It was too nice a night to sit around and hand out candy. All dressed up and ready to go, with my lights charged and mounted - so off I went, with my phone close at hand and my pepper spray in a jersey pocket. (I'm not supposed to night ride alone - just not smartest thing) I bolted past the herds of kids out searching for sugar, seeking the solitude of Stratton. And in the darkness broken only by my lights, I found a new awareness - the stillness of peace. There is no silence in Stratton - but the utter aloneness with my thoughts, my tires crackling on the gravel and the rasp of my breathing and pounding of my heart.

Stillness - at night, all alone, the air is still in the trees of Stratton. There is no wind and although the city is sprawled out below, a sense of isolation.Clouds obscured the rising moon, lending an even heavier air to the feeling of aloneness.  Except not truly alone - the glow of eyes in the underbrush reveal the secret life of my playground. I saw few animals on this ride - just the occasional glimpse of something as it ran away. And it wasn't from the number of people out and about. I heard nothing of the trick or treaters crowding the roads once up in the trees. It was an odd blend of perfect relaxation from the ride and a taut on-edge feeling from riding alone.

Gravel crunching - Riding in Stratton is never quiet. But at night, the only one on the trails, the gravel under my tires is overwhelming. It crunches loudly, overwhelming the silence of the night as I ride, echoing off the trees and roaring in my ears. With the lack of rain lately, the gravel is deep and wants to wrest control of bike away from me. A little distracted yesterday, the gravel won a few battles. It's thrilling - the awareness and control for sand surfing up and down, yet a soothing sound of familiarity. It's something I rarely experience since I don't tend to ride at night alone.

Breathing and heart beating - while the trails at Stratton aren't the most technical, there is a lot of climbing. No matter how you meander, there's a hill. On the climbs, the sound of my breathing competed with the sounds of my tires - in and out, deep and harsh. The harder the climb or the effort, the louder my breathing until it drowned out every other sound. Topping out and I become aware of the pounding - the lubdub of my heart. No matter how fit you are, climbing is still work. But then it's time for the sweet rewards. The trail flooded with light from my Diablo and Maxx D, I have the freedom a solitary night provides. Flying down the hills, the wind raw against my cheeks.

Too soon, back to reality as I wind my way home through the trick or treaters. The ride may have become a time for reflection and solitude, but there was still a party to get ready for!