Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire

Have you ever been asked what you would take if you had to evacuate your home in the event of a fire? Well, I recently got to find out first hand.

It all started on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012. I decided to go for a bike ride on the hottest day (100 degrees) ever on June 23rd. On the way home I saw a plume of smoke coming from the hills above our house.

"Oh, crap.." I thought. I never imagined that in 3 short days, that fire would be raging down the hill towards my neighborhood at a ridiculous and unbelievable speed.

The days after it started we all watched as the firefighters worked hard to save Cedar Heights above Manitou Springs and waited patiently for the air support to arrive. Our neighbors to the south were all evacuated and were getting antsy to get back home. Then Tuesday afternoon happened. I was at work and Cindy called to tell me that we were being pre-evacuated. I decided to leave early and on my drive home I took these pictures:

It was still a ridge over from ours and would have to cross Queens Canyon to get to us. I got a text from Cindy asking if she should come home. I told her no, there was plenty of time.... I got home and started watching the press conference to get more info when my neighbor knocked on my door. "You have to see this", she said. I walked out on my front porch and here is what greeted me:

I texted Cindy "come home now" and started packing the car. Then the wind that brought us this little gift hit our neighborhood at around 60 mph, enveloping us in smoke. Visibility went to about a block and cars were whizzing by the house in a big hurry to get home while a steady stream of cars started forming a line in the other direction to get out of the!

While all of this was going on, I continued to pack the car and take the occasional picture. This was the beginning of the end for the Flying W Ranch:

The heat coming off the fire combined with the high wind and 100 degree weather was unbelievable and was amazing to experience first-hand. I had to keep stopping to drink water while running around the house packing our stuff.
I got everything packed except for what Cindy might want and started to get a little antsy. I hoped that she would be able to make it home through all of the chaos. I grabbed some of her clothes and was getting ready to round up the dogs when there was a loud knock on the door. It was a police officer and he told me to get out..NOW. By then I figured they didn't let Cindy back into the neighborhood so I loaded up the dogs and got in line to evacuate. I got about a block and saw Cindy driving towards the house so I whipped a U-turn and followed her home. She got some stuff and we got to leave together! I looked at our house one last time thinking I may never see it again and we left. Here are some pics I took while driving out:

As evacuees, we were about as fortunate as you can get. My sister and her family live about 25 minutes south of us and welcomed us with open arms. Their house is big and air-conditioned and she is an awesome cook. I got to spend time with my niece, Jordan and we even bounced on the trampoline a bit. Here is Jordan with our dogs in our temporary basement home:

Jordan likes dinosaurs and these were fighting to the death:

We are home now and the fire is far away and 80% contained. I still get a faint smell of smoke when I enter the garage but for us, things are back to normal. I went for my first ride from home since that Saturday when it all began and saw some of the burned down homes. In my local park, Ute Valley, there was a burned patch that looks like it may have started from an ember floating over Popes Bluff...that could have been very bad news if our firefighters had missed it. Those guys are on it and we all have an even greater appreciation for what they do. They saved so many homes and grieved when they could not. Wow. Awesome!

Here are some during and after shots from my front yard:

If you look by the traffic light pole on the right you can see some houses that are now gone. Terrible.

I sincerely hope that my next blog post is about a great ride. Ha!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monarch Crest Trail on the eve of the Solstice

The other day I got a call from an old friend named Tony Munoz. He was wondering if I would like to join him and his buddy Adam on a Mountain Bike ride on the Crest Trail from the top of Monarch Pass.  It just so happened that I was looking for an adventure and a reason to play hooky from work so I said OK!

We opted to take the shuttle and save an hour and a half of climbing Monarch Pass with cars whizzing by. On the way up, Tony noticed that my bike was a bit crooked and told the driver...seconds later it fell over. I had visions of my beloved bike falling off the trailer and getting munched by a truck, but it stayed put. We put it in the van with us for the duration of the drive up.

Here are some of the pictures I took on the ride (I just got a new Panasonic Lumix  digital camera with a ridiculously cool panorama feature and this was it's maiden voyage):

After the ride we drove over to Buena Vista for a stop at Poncho's. I always get the Mondo Combo burrito. Fills you up!

Here is one more pic from high in the alpine tundra...wait, what's that thing on my head? It's a GoPro helmet-cam. Are you suprised?

Of course you're not.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Post-race musings and such

Wow. A week ago today I was taking turns circulating the 16 mile lap of the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race course with my team-mate Kelly. It all started at 7 a.m. with a Lemans style start and something like 500 cyclists running to their bikes in a mad dash. Then it was just non-stop racing for 12 hours. An average lap for us was around an hour and a half. So that meant when you finished your lap, you would immediately have to hydrate, eat, work on your bike and try to rest. Time has never flown by so fast. We did 4 laps each for a total of 128 miles at race pace. Time has never crawled by so slow as when we were out on course. Here is a shot of the area where we pitted. Pretty fancy for a bunch of Geezers:

Here is a great article and video on Mountain Flyer's website:

I mentioned that I had some help with preparation this year from my good friend Alison (she knows a bit about training and racing-hee hee). Well, it worked out smashingly. My big goal was to finish out the final laps without cramping up and aside from a minor calf cramp, it was a huge success. I didn't get my other goal of a 1:18 lap but was pretty close with a 1:21.

Oh, and we did take the victory which was a goal for the team. Like Russ says: "If you are gonna race, you might as well win....". Wish it were that easy.

Here is a shot of Kelly and I right after I finished my final lap:

Here we are after the awards presentation with the 2nd and 3rd place teams. Our good buddies Todd Baker (3rd from left) and Dick Dodge(4th from left) gave us a good run and we had to dig deep to get ahead of them!

I also mentioned in the last blog that I had just built up a new bike that was not exactly a cross-country race bike. Here is a picture of the new Giant Reign, a 6" travel, 30 lb. bruiser of a bike that is not meant to race cross-country unless it's pointing down (never said I was smart...) next to my old frame and fork:

The day after the race, we had a delicious breakfast at Mr. Happy's Bakery and Cafe and then headed to nearby Dolores for an easy ride on some fun new trails:

We randomly chose to ride the Bean Canyon loop which was a good choice! Here are some pics from that ride:

After that we caravanned towards Gunnison with Kelly leading in his giant RV and me following:

I didn't tell Kelly but I had arranged a surprise for him in Gunnison. We were planning to ride at Hartman's Rocks on Monday so I contacted a famous local rider that I know from the old days, Dave Wiens,  to see if he could join us for a ride. Turned out he could but only for a short time because he had to close the gates in the Hartman's riding area in order to keep the cows in and the ranchers happy. Here is some advice: do NOT try to keep up with Dave when he is in a hurry. I tried and paid for it later. Ha! Here is a shot of Dave and I at the top of "Kill Hill" (really):

It turns out that I am not TOTALLY retired from racing as long as the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde is going on. Preparing for bike racing is an amazing thing to put yourself through. You develop a tunnel-vision, focusing only on the next workout, staying hydrated, constantly eating and trying to rest. It was a lot easier 20+ years ago when I had youth on my side. Now I am older and wiser but with more responsibilities and an incredible, loving wife to spend time with so I am happy to just go back to riding just for fun and admiring all of the racers out there for doing what they do. Until next year.... I might need to add another one of these to the mantle:

2010 Pirate theme (left), 2012 Disco theme (right)!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I thought I retired from racing...

The other day, I received a text from my friend Kelly(see picture on right) asking for Russ' cell number. I sent it to him. A little while later, I received another text from Kelly. This time he asked if I would like to be his team-mate in the upcoming 12 Hours of Mesa Verde race. I mulled it over and somehow said yes. This, after I swore to never do a duo 12 hour race again! And I just built up a bike that is more suited to downhill riding that cross-country racing. And I had one month to get race fit since Kelly is a very serious competitor and I don't want to let him down. Oh my....

Luckily, I have already been riding a bit and I know someone who can help me tune my fitness for race-mode in a short amount of time:

It really pays to know the right people. You can check out her website:

She stopped by the other day to get some new tires installed and in the amount of time it took me to do that, she whipped up a training plan (on post-it notes!):

Looking over her plan made me realize that I rode way too much and way too hard back in the old days.

So, now I am getting up and doing VO2 intervals before breakfast and following those little post-it notes to the "T". I will let you know how it all worked out after the race. My favorite training so far is: ride hard- 2 hours. Just like the old days!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fun in Ute Valley Park!

Last weekend, Russ and I put some flat pedals on our full-suspension bikes and made a little video of one of our favorite downhill trails in Ute Valley Park. Preparation for this summer's adventures in Winter Park's Trestle Bike Park! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pilgrimage to AZ

My Dad likes to go to Arizona once a year to escape the long winters up in Florissant, Colorado. He likes to rent a condo and just enjoy the desert air and warmth. This year, Cindy and I were the first to visit him and his faithful dog Sadie. I packed our mountain bikes and our little dog Klaus and off we went to Tucson.
Tight fit in the ol' Volvo

It just so happened that my friend Mike was staying down there and had some rides planned for us. On day one, we hit the Arizona Trail out to Three Bridges and back.
Here's one of the bridges with plenty of leafy green Tucson trees.

On day two, I met Mike at Catalina State Park so we could ride the 50 year trail. It was typical desert terrain which then changed as we climbed. Soon we were on a boulder-strewn hillside which reminded me of Hartman's Rocks in Gunnison, Colorado

Lots of cactus...everywhere. See how Gunnison-like the rocks are?

Day three was a trip to the Desert Museum of Tucson. Cindy and I spent 4 hours there and enjoyed every minute of it. We got there just in time to see the Raptor Free Flight show which had a variety of Desert Birds of Prey flying over our heads and getting treats as rewards.

Here is a Grey Hawk and a Great Horned Owl.

I took a few shots of the variety of wildlife at the museum including Cindy's favorite, the Javolina (or furry desert pigs as she calls them)

Bobcat watching all the curious humans

Roadrunner, the coyote's after you!

Fantasy Island

"The plane(s), the plane(s)"! Fantasy Island is very near the airplane graveyard.

Smiles everyone, smiles! We must welcome our guests to Fantasy Island. Cindy and I headed out to East Tucson to ride these fun local (and directional) trails.

Not a good idea to push your cornering abilities...

There was some unusual stuff out there in the Desert.

My favorite vacations are when I can just ride my mountain bike, eat, rest and repeat. Throw in a little culture and you've got it! On one of our final days, I grabbed a beer and the salmon and headed to the community grill in the Condo complex. I took this picture whilst grilling. Not a bad view...even if the mountains are a bit smaller than here in Colorado.

Thanks, Dad!