Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Cycling Gear I Like, Part 2

Okay, so only the first thing on this list is strictly winter gear, but it's all stuff I'm using on the winter bike, so it's fair game anyway.

Hand Warmers
I thought for a long time that bar mitts or Pogies or whatever you want to call them were for sissies and that a good pair of mittens with liner gloves would always be sufficient. Wrong. I was at Farm and Fleet the other day for something else and happened across a pair of QuadGear ATV mitts for under $20, so I decided to give them a shot. Yeah, pretty good stuff. I can wear a pair of cotton jersey gloves inside these down to about zero Fahrenheit and my fingers are pretty toasty. They have little velcro-closure pockets inside for chemical hand warmers. Easy velcro attachment. Granted, they are not custom Epic Designs Pogies, and don't fit my Titec H-bars like a glove exactly, and I sacrifice some hand positions because of it, but they're a good way to try out bar mitts. There's also enough room inside to carry an extra pair of gloves, a toque and maybe a little food. Experience to date suggests I won't need the warmer pockets for warmers, but I bet they'd fit some nibbles.

Another thing I like in the winter are dynamo hubs and LED headlights. I'm currently running a DH-3N71 disk hub on the Pony, which has Ultegra-quality bearings and kicks out 6 volts at 3 watts. It's hooked up to a German-made Schmidt Edelux 2-watt LED headlight. The LED actually shines backward into a parabolic reflector that faces forward, creating a nice, even, parallelogram-shaped patch of light right where you need it most. The beam also has a sharp cutoff at its top, helping to not blind other road and path users. Think BMW headlight rather than the usual vertically-symmetrical flashlight beam you get with most bicycle lights. Here's a picture of the beam (top) in action versus the 1W Planet Bike Blaze LED dynamo headlight (bottom):

Schmidt Edelux beam pattern
Planet Bike Dyno LED beam pattern
Don't get me wrong, I love the PB light, especially for its killer Superflash blinkie mode, but the Edulux is better for seeing more of what's on the ground ahead of the bike.

One thing I really like about dynamos in general is that you don't have to noodle with batteries, which tend to be sapped by cold temperatures. Something about not converting chemical energy into light energy quite as easily. I know that battery technology has gotten much better in recent years, but I just don't like dealing with them in general, whether rechargeable or disposable.

I'm also using an all-dyno powered setup on the Moose now, with a Shimano NX-30 hub powering a Lumotec IQ Fly headlight (truly great for the price), PB Blaze and Busch & Müller DToplight XS Plus taillight. Not supposed to be able to do all of that, but it works. Potential future Blog Gold.

Dressed up Pony
The best I have saved for last. My new Epic Designs frame bag and gas tank. Another hat tip to Doug for finally pushing me over the edge on ordering these in plenty of time to take delivery for the DDD. These might seem sort of expensive, but when you consider that they're custom-made from high-end materials by a guy who really knows his stuff and feel how light the package is when it arrives in the mail, they start to seem like a pretty darn good deal. I've been carrying a couple of dry shirts, a pump, a few tools, a tube, first aid kit and thermos of hot beverage in the frame bag and eats in the gas tank.

The last likey, neither strictly winter or cycling, is the camera that's been shooting most of the photos that appear here and in my Flickrama over the last month or so. It's the waterproof, dustproof and shock-resistant Panasonic Lumix TS1. After thrashing 4 cameras over the last 4 or 5 years and dooming 2 of hem, I settled on something that might have a chance of surviving going everywhere with me for just a little longer. We'll see how that works out. It's doing well so far in spite of being subjected to this sort of thing:

Also, one little footnote regarding the previous post. I like Freddie's Revenz Lites for the kind of riding that happens around here. On the 48mm ZHI rims at about 15-18psi, they have a pretty squared-off profile, darn good gription and more than a little bit of squishiness to soak up rough trail surfaces. All this in something that weighs less and feels better than the 2.5-inch WTB Timberwolf and Continental Digga tires that I had tried on before—tires that don't carry the 336 steel stud insurance policy. Been looking at the Larry though...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Cycling Gear I Like, Part 1

Even though I've been into the whole snowbiking thing ever since I first threw a leg over my buddy's chrome Ross Mt. Hood back in January of 1989, only lately have I gone really nuts on gear. I've gotten about a half dozen things over the last 12 months that I really, really like and are genuinely helpful.

As a wise man once said, "When I go winter camping, I don't wear my summer hiking shoes with shoe covers. I wear winter boots. When I go snowshoeing, I don't wear summer shoes with covers on them. I wear winter boots."

I think this applies to feet, heads and most of the winter clothing a person can name.

The first thing I got was a pair of Lake MXZ302 winter boots. Yeah, they were expensive, even getting them on closeout this past spring. I had gotten a pair of the older MXZ300 model used at the bike swap a couple of years back and really liked them but for two issues: 1. they were just a little too small, and 2. they are only good down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The new ones are better on both counts.

The second is a downhill ski helmet. Until this year, I've muddled through winter with all sorts of stuff covering my head. I came pretty close with a good spandex scullcap and neck gaiter, but never quite got it right. Then one day I was shopping at local sporting goods store that was having a moving sale and happened across a Giro G10 like this one:

They only had the one in stock, and it was a mere Large. I tried it on, thinking it would never fit my enormous melon, and what do you know? Just about perfect. Feels more solid than the average bike helmet, is fully lined and has very good ear coverage. Full goggle compatibility too, including a strap keeper on the back. I'm not wild about the way it distorts my hearing, but it's not much different than a pair of dog ears. A solid win, but doesn't make me any less goofy-looking:

So Debonair

The last thing for this post is the Nokian Freddie's Revenz Lite studded tire. Made specifically for off-road ice racing, it tends to be overkill for anything to do with commuting, until we get 14 inches of snow in one day. Worked great all of last week, and I'm hoping it's a better bet than the Surly Endomorph for the DDD. We'll see.

Tire Comparison

Even though it's full of metal, it seems to weigh a little less than the WTB Timberwolf 2.5 I used on this bike in nicer weather. Has a little more supple feel too.

Next time, a little bit about bags, lights and other sundries.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 in Review, Part One

Homebound Panda

I know it isn't over yet, but I have a lot to say and I can type faster now, so here we go.

Back in 2007, I did quarterly updates: Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4, but I haven't done them for the last two years.

I think we'll make Part the First about bicycle riding.

2008 saw a drop in milage in relation to 2007 from 3600 to about 3200. Most of that was pretty leisurely, with only a couple of notables. First, there were a couple of heavy-duty weeks of recreational riding in the summer, a spike in gas prices made for some very busy bike paths, and I did the second-annual Bike the Barns ride. The second notable was the decision to try the DDD and the building of the Black Pony, which I blogged here and here. That turned out to be a pivotal decision for this year.

This year was a little more intense. I'm on track to close out the year at almost 3500 miles, but the distinction is more in the speed at which those miles were ridden. This year was faster without question. Something about the DDD prompted me to start riding as though I were training for something, which I guess I am. I've dropped almost 30 pounds since last year at this time, joined a gym and feel much stronger. It's been a really positive motivator for me.

Other landmarks in 2009 include the Glare Ice Project, the Planet Trek with my youngin, Madison's first annual Ride the Drive, the third annual Bike the Barns ride, and my very first cyclocross race. Didn't buy any new bikes this year, but did reconfigure the Cross Check again:

Woodpecker Mk.V

Considering a dedicated cross bike for next season if I'm still in the mood. Maybe a nice Chili Con Crosso frame built up with my parts. We'll see.

The DDD is coming up on January 9. I'm doing it 30 pounds lighter this year, with a bike that weighs 6 pounds less, better winter boots, a winter (downhill ski) helmet, better tires and a set of Epic Designs frame bags. Should be much more interesting...I guess we'll see what the weather does compared to last year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All Done

It's finally stopped snowing now and the wind has picked up and shifted around to the North. We're all snug in the rug, though a little sore. It was a leg- and neck-gaiter kind of day.

Losing Ground

Still snowing. City shut down. Typing is shaky. Have yet to see a snowplow today. Snow weighs as much as a heart attack. Might take a catnap now that I've had a big bowl of chili, a Thermotab and a couple big glasses of water. Then I'll put on my last pair of dry gloves and go back at it.

Blizzard Warning

16 inches of wet, heavy, snowman-grade snow so far. No work today but for the all-day shoveling marathon. Nobody is going anywhere. Wisconsin has declared a state of emergency. Please, if you can read this, stop by the liquor store and pick me up some antifreeze.

Read more about it here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just a Shadow of my Present Self

The old Tracking Shot of the Ride to Work Shadow is always a crowd pleaser. This is along the Monona Terrace Convention Center here in Madison. Not an original idea by a long shot—here's another.

In other news, I'm working on a comparison of a few dynamo-powered LED bike headlights. Should be blog gold.

In other other news, the typing is coming along nicely and beginning to speed up a little. May be able to type at a respectable speed someday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

3100 and Counting

Yeah, I know that for a long time, one of Grant's rules was "don't keep track," but it's one that I never really heeded. So, for the fourth year in a row, I find myself someplace north of 3k miles of total riding. I'm a piker compared to some of you, but I'm pretty happy with it. Might like to see what the high side of 4k looks like. Think I'll try that next year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Which is More Important

There was a crane on the bike path
...for the bike commuter, a sense of adventure or a sense of humor? It's cheating to say "both."

Ideal was putting some barge into the lake this morning (the lake is to the left in the shot above) so it was time for the bikers to break out their mad cyclocross skilz.

This guy? Fail.

Monday, November 09, 2009

My Summer Vacation

So back in July, I had a couple of days off, and that kid and I were trying to think up something to do. We talked about going for a bike ride and the idea of doing the Planet Trek came up. It's a pretty cool thing—a scale model of the solar system spread out over 23 miles of bike path. Every object has its own placard describing its stats and relative size. The sun is represented by a 24-foot circle of flowers, Jupiter is the size of a hula hoop and Pluto is the size of a marble. With the marble located in Mount Horeb, this was really too far for the ten year old to ride in one day. So without really thinking, I suggested we could do the trek in one direction one day, camp overnight and return the next. Once I said it, there was no taking it back, and the kid was determined to do exactly that.

So here she is:

Ready to Go
and me with the Big Dummy, loaded for bear:

Loaded Up
My first mistake was waiting until almost noon to leave the house. I had figured we could make maybe 8 miles per hour over 32 miles and be in camp by six or so with stops. Not so much.

First stop, the sun:

Sun Diameter
See how happy? It wasn't to last. We then proceeded to visit the other placards in town in relatively quick succession. Pluto, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres (an asteroid), and Jupiter went by pretty quickly. We stopped for a saddle adjustment on her bike and for a couple of other things:

Then there was Saturn, last of the happy planets:

You'll notice that there's quite a distance between Saturn and Neptune. Probably about 14 miles:

14 miles can do quite a little bit to change one's mood:

Of course, my mood always improves with a stop at the Riley tavern for a samnitch or two (as it did on last winter's Shakedown Cruise for a Snowbike):

Lunch at the Riley Tap
The last 7 or 8 miles were uphill and rather grueling for the youngster. We were stopping at a pace of about once per mile at this point and her conscientious penchant for remaining well-hydrated made for a couple of very much anticipated potty stops. She was still doing well, but not getting any more enthusiastic:

Here we are on Pluto. Learning is fun.

The next part, between Mt Horrible and Blue Mounds, was a little farther than I thought and by far the most difficult part of the trip for the little human on the Big Dorky Bicycle. The saddle is a little too big for a kid, so her seat was sore. We stopped at a convenience store, and by some mad twist of fate, thank goodness, they had a bottle of baby powder.

Six miles and 7 rest stops later, we arrived at the turnoff into Blue Mounds State Park. Just one more 350-foot climb up a 10 percent grade to go. Oh, and then find the park office. And a site. No, really, it was easy. We bought firewood at the camp office, loaded it onto the DumV and arrived on site at about 7:30.

I didn't take many photos in camp because we were pretty busy setting up the tent and cooking dinner. Did manage to get one snap of the weenie roast:

Camping at Blue Mound State Park
We slept pretty well but for the nighttime raid by La Coonsa Nostra. These were not your ordinary cuddly Disney raccoons, but snarling, nasty, streetwise thugs bent on stealing our hot dog buns at any cost. They managed to figure out how to knock down the stuff I had hung in the tree in about 15 minutes. I finally ended up taking our little cooler and what remained of our dry goods to an adjacent site and asking a fellow camper to shut it in their car to be recovered in the morning. Egad.

After things settled down, I still didn't sleep all that well. Seems a little silly in retrospect, but I was worried about how I was going to get that kid home the next day. She was tired and sore and we had talked about calling the missus to sag her out.

Day broke and that kid slept until about 8, but rolled out of bed all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We had some milk and cereal, our eggs broken having not been properly stowed. We roasted a couple of hot dogs, drank some coffee and decided to treat ourselves to a proper breakfast in Mount Horrible. After finding out that the pool didn't open until noon (thus missing the major attraction at BMSP) we broke camp and hit the road. After a very slow and careful descent out of the park, it was smooth downhill sailing toward home:

Heading Home

See that smile? What a difference a good night's sleep can make!

We ate brunch at a brewpub in Mount Horeb called the Grumpy Troll.
Burgers and fries tasted pretty good right about then. Outdoor seating.

Stopped plenty of times on the way back, including a bit of a layover in Riley. No bar food this time though:

Rest Stop at Riley
We also stopped in Verona for ice cream and hunted high and low for Uranus. In fact, the idea that we couldn't locate yer-ay-nus became, as one might expect with a ten year old, the standing joke for the entire trip. We thought we had just missed it on the way out, but on the return trip we even asked a park ranger along the trail, "pardon us sir, have you seen Uranus?" The answer was "no."

Where'd it go?
Again that kid started to drag pretty hard at about 7 miles out, but with ample encouragement and not a few rest breaks, we were home by dinnertime.

The Big Dummy and the Amsterdam actually turned out to be something like the Dynamic Duo. When her stuff was too heavy to carry past Mount Horeb on the way out the first day, I just plunked it on the Dummy and we soldiered on. I have to say that it was a pleasure to ride even fully loaded on the limestone trail. The Amsterdam, while a big heavy thing, beat her little 24-inch mountain bike with its steady cruise and carrying capacity.

Given to do again (which we will, I can guarantee) I think we'll put a better saddle on the A'dam and get her out on it for a few shorter rides to accustom her to it. As it was, she was a real trooper doing 62 miles in two days. Gained a new respect for her.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cyclocross Hurts

I mean, look at that face:

Camrock Cyclocross
Photo courtesy of Renee Callaway, madcross dot org

This was the Camrock Classic Rock of Cross WCA Cross event in Rockdale back on October 18. My very first CC race ever. Chuck and I raced the Masters Cat 4 very first thing in the frosty morning. Started out by getting lost in the road construction on the way to the race, parking across the river and riding across a pedestrian bridge and the last half mile to the course.

The Dropouts that organized this thing are pretty deep in the Masters, so my goals were to 1. finish, 2. not get lapped, 3. not break anything and 4. not kill myself. Resounding success on all 4. I finished 24th of 29 (with one DNF) and would likely have been 25 had Chuck not let the air out of his front tire on the final lap. Four laps in about 38 minutes. Prolly close to lapped, but not.

Yeah, after about the first lap I wanted very badly to stop but hung in there. A little sore the next day but not too bad. Looked at shiny new CX bikes all week but resisted temptation easily, having not that kind of scratch. Maybe a couplafew races next year if the urge strikes...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

What I Did With My Spring Vacation

Meet the Dinkle House. The Dinkle house is that which the Babilonia clan calls home. From the time we bought it in 1997 until this March, it looked more or less like this:

But time came for paint, and it was decided, and rightfully so, that it needed a little more love than just a coat of paint. We decided on new siding and insulation. Piece of cake.

Here are pal Chuck and I tearing off the old sheathing. My advice in retrospect would be to not try this at home. It's a miserable business in many important ways, but I'm very lucky to have a bunch of folks in my life willing to help a guy who's gotten himself in over his head. Special thanks to Chuck, Karen, Joel, Tom, Steve and Bob. Won't soon forget it.

Once the tearoff was over, it looked a little naked:

Bare Studs
You could see all the plumbing and electrical from the street. And hear a lot more of the street from inside the house. Then came the Insulators:

Blown-in fiberglass. Rated at about R16, which is quite an improvement over the R6 or so that we had with the previous material. These guys showed up at ten past eight, were gone by noon and came in $70 under bid. Wish all construction went that way.

Plywood sheathing:

Foam board:

Wrapped in Blue
and finally, spanky new fiberglass siding:

Nearing Completion
This stuff is the new darling of architects everywhere, or so I am told. Six months on it still looks great and is holding up well, but we'll see whether it lasts. All the windows are aluminum clad, so it won't need a lot of maintenance. A little soon to tell whether the insulation has made a big difference, but the weather has turned cold...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

They's Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

So. It's been a while. Yeah, I've been busy, but I'm sure everybody else is busy too. Must have needed a break from blogging. Having had a nudge from Mr. Stonebreaker, I'm back. And They's Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here.

First, no more pussyfooting around about who I am. My real name is listed in my profile, and you can find me on Facebook and Flickr more easily now too.

Second, I've obviously changed the look of the blog. Got kinda bored with the old one. Hope you like it, cuz it's gonna be around a while.

Third, part of the reason I haven't been blogging is that I broke my little camera back in March and have yet to replace it. No pictures, no story, as far as I'm concerned. Unable so far to accomplish the task of finding a new one.

Fourth, I failed high school personal typing and type like a schizophrenic chicken. It's really hard to bang out regular blog entries when you can only frantically peck about 30 WPM. So I'm trying to learn to touch type. Not going all that well yet.

Fifth, I've been changing my lifestyle a bit and now eat better, exercise more and have lost a bit of weight. Did a cyclocross race recently and am getting a fitness evaluation next week. No, I will not be trading in my personal life for an Ironman berth, but I will be doing a repeat appearance at the DDD this coming January.

Feeling pretty good. And I have been busy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Passing of a Bullhead

For Robert Lloyd Olsen, a few thousand parting words.

Husband, father, soldier:

My grandfather (if you're wondering, I still look great in red socks):

Friend to dogs:

So long, pal.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

At the Races

At the races
Originally uploaded by Olive Talique.

A rare photo of me on a bike. Thanks Olive!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tour de Slush

Yeah, the Glare Ice Project was supposed to be Madison's premier icebike race, but nobody could have predicted 45-degree temperatures on February 7. I rode the course after work the day before and it was fantastic. The next day it had 4 inches of water on it.

I rode in the second heat, which was 5 guys and 5 laps. Got behind a guy on a cyclocross bike and had a lot of trouble passing him—I ultimately finished fourth. Somehow I ended up with the DFL trophy even though there were riders in the other two heats that got lapped. Maybe it was because I was standing in front of the person handing out the stuff after the race. Oh well, it was fun anyway. Thanks to the folks at Revolution and everyone else who helped put it on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It Was a Pretty Good Day

Glad to have grownups in charge again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Triple D Ride Reports

Here are reports from Lance (the race organizer), Dennis , Devon, Spinner, Ben the Shockstar and Skip.

Oh, and it was also covered by the local news (video link in the upper left, above the reporter's photo.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Slog is a Four-Letter Word

slog |släg|
verb ( slogged , slogging )
1 [ intrans. ] work hard over a period of time : they were slogging away to meet a deadline.
• [with adverbial of direction ] walk or move with difficulty or effort : he slogged home through the gray slush.

Yeah, yeah, I know, long timey no bloggy. Guess I've had other things cooking.

So I did the the Triple D Winter Adventure Race on Saturday. Right up front I should mention that I was a complete adventure sport virgin before Saturday. Yes, I've ridden a bike for commuting and for recreation year-round since 1989, and even did a bike race in the summer of 1990, but I've never done anything competitively in the winter. Not so much as a 5k cross-country ski race. This was a hell of a way to start.

I built up a chinese-made Motobecane mountain bike frame (blogged earlier here) for the race. (But because I can't afford to have a bike just for winter racing, it will also eventually serve as a replacement for my current winter commuter.) All of last week, trail conditions were reported to be fast but icy. My friend Chuck kindly offered to lend me his set of Nokian Extreme 294 studded tires, which are designed for off-road winter racing. I eagerly accepted and put them on for my Wednesday and Thursday commutes. Perfect for icy conditions. On Friday, Madison and Dane County got 4-10 inches of fresh powder, but Dubuque got less than an inch. We arrived at the Grand Harbor Resort Friday night after a nice clear, uneventful drive from Madison, and after a visit to the water park with the missus and youngin, I went to bed with visions of having a really a good ride on Saturday.

Then it snowed.

We woke up Saturday to a fresh 5+ inches of powder on top of all that nice fast ice. In the words of race organizer Lance Andre, "there is no good bike for these conditions." And he turned out to be right.

Hour 1
About 40 cyclists rolled out of the resort parking lot under an overcast sky, with 20-degree temps and a light wind out of the north-northwest. We went northwest through Dubuque to a paved section of the Heritage bike trail. I ran near the back of the pack right from the start. Then we turned west onto another paved bike path on the south side of highway 32 and began the long climb out of the river valley. At the top of the hill, the bike path ended and we crossed to the westbound shoulder and continued almost until Middle Road, where the route went into the ditch adjacent to the road. Up to this point, which was about 10 miles from the start, I had been maintaining a respectable 9 mile per hour pace and dropped the 5 or 6 riders that had been behind me. Pushing the bike uphill through fresh powder over ice slowed progress to about 2 mph. My homemade insulated toe covers and chemical toe warmers conspired at that point to cook my piggies, and the toe covers had the added benefit of covering the part of the boot tread best suited to pushing. The fun had begun.

Hour 2
After another short stint on the road, the route cut onto a private ATV trail that ran through a hay field. Here the pushing began in earnest. Pushing up one side of a hill led to a not-so-controlled roll, slide or push down the next. I caught a whiff of bacon and decided it was time to stop and take the toe warmers out of my boots. I also switched from clear ski goggles to sunglasses as the cloud cover had begun to lighten. After more pushing and one wipeout, I came out into an industrial park running a couple of minutes behind the biker ahead of me. By the time I had gotten to the next off-road section a mile or so later, there was noone else in sight.

Hour 3
Next came the What the Hell am I Doing Here? moment. I found myself mostly pushing along this "trail" through farm fields, up and down hills, through a drainage ditch (mostly glare ice under the snow) and finally to come upon another rider fixing a flat tire in the company of a race volunteer and the event photographer. They told me that I was not in last place—so that, along with the sunshine, lifted my spirits quite a bit. As I continued on, the guy who had been fixing his flat passed me pretty quickly. I pushed on over another couple of hills, catching up to another rider just as we reached Humke Road. He was riding a Specialized FSR XC with homemade studded tires, which probably worked just as well as my bike, but he was having trouble with cramps. Humke runs along the top of a ridge and was windy, but clear pavement was more than welcome. Caught up to flat tire guy again , who had decided that three flats was enough and used my phone to sag out. Passed another pair of riders fixing a flat in someone's driveway. Thought that if I could just make it to the trailhead in Graf, I might be able to make it to Dyersville. After another mile or so, Humke became a gravel road and then an unmaintained track known to Iowans as a "B" road.

Hour 4
Here the route ran downhill through a wooded area, with maybe 7 or 8 inches of powder on top of a healthy sheet of glare ice. After falling about 4 times, I switched to a Fred Flintstone-esque dabfest, and then finally resorted to pushing the bike down the hill. This was by far the silliest part of the entire day. On one especially steep section near the bottom of the hill, my feet slid out from under me and I fell on my butt, sweeping a 10-foot long patch of ice clean of snow with my tights, all the while dragging the bike along behind me with one hand. Had to laugh. Had two more similar falls before reaching the bottom and the intersection with a mercifully plowed Girl Scout Road. From there, I practically flew to the trailhead near Graf to find the trail covered in as much snow as the rest of the off-road sections. This, combined with the sight of other cyclists headed back toward Dubuque prompted me to bag it and head for home. After chatting with 3 or 4 other riders coming to the same conclusion, I set out up Graf Road through Graf, headed back toward the finish at the Handle Bar in Durango.

Hour 5
I rode up to Asbury Road, took a little snack break and helping out a lost snowmobiler (I know, I couldn't believe that either) and setting upon the long climb to the Sundown Ski Area. One would think that I would have known that a ski area would be at the top of a rather large hill, but that didn't occur to me when I chose that route. The hill must have been a at least two miles of steady but not especially steep climbing. At the top, just before the ski area, a black Nissan Xterra with a bike rack headed in the other direction stopped and backed up to where I was, and a very nice man who introduced himself as Frank asked me whether I wanted a ride. It took me a second to snap out of my get to Durango mindset, but I graciously accepted. He gave me a ride back to the resort, where I had a shower, dinner, and a couple of hours at the water park with the youngin. I slept really well that night.

24.5 miles, 5 hours, 35 minutes (or thereabouts.)

Some of this might have sounded crabby, but this was a challenging event and a good reminder that nobody controls the weather. Sort of humbling, really. All tallied up, it was a beautiful day the day of the event, and I have to give the organizers credit for putting on a well-run show. Now I just have to decide whether I'll try it again next year...

Special thanks to Revolution Cycles, Planet Bike, Chuck S., Andy S., my folks (for hosting Princess Lillianna at doggie camp), the entire Triple D crew (especially Lance and Traci and Frank F.) and most of all, my wife and daughter for putting up with this foolishness.