Long live long rides! Unless it’s the first ride of the season

Posted: January 27th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

A wrong turn heading out of Hygiene towards to Longmont meant that I tacked on another 5-6 miles to my ride. What was to be a gentle introduction into road riding 2016 I instead initiated a slogfest of nearly 50 miles that included the gentle grind that is Rabbit Mountain. I don’t know what I was thinking except that having signed up for the Triple Bypass I was determined not to show up as out of shape as I was at last year’s event.

Relaxing is an important part of any ride

The best part of the ride was stopping in at Mary’s in Hygiene. I always look forward to stopping in grabbing some fresh baked cookies, a coffee and relaxing into one the chairs under the big cottonwood at the side. It’s the type of destination ride I love. This past Saturday, the weather was finer that it had been in months, which meant there were streams of cyclists coming out of Hygiene in a psychedelic blur. It also meant I missed the crush into Mary’s. In retrospect, I should have enjoyed my pastry and headed back home but I had the bit between my teeth, a goal, and a muffin top compelling me forward.

The ride up Rabbit Mtn is not particularly inspiring; it’s primarily prairie land that curves up unremittingly to a trail head with views of scrub land on either side. Glimpses of the peaks are hidden behind the curve of the road, so it feels a little isolating and bleak on a winter’s day. I’ve never actually hiked around Rabbit Mtn; I’ve only ever ridden to the trail head and then back down. On Saturday, I took a break and a quick picture at the trail head and contemplated my return route home.

I was loathed to get on Hwy36, with its racing cars and heavy, loud trucks but I didn’t really want to retrace my steps all the way home. This last decision is what led to the left turn out of Hygiene towards Airport Rd in Longmont. It wasn’t a bad decision entirely, although I ended up on the Diagonal, which is only slightly less of a raging and racing road than Hwy36.

By the time, I rolled in at home, I was cooked. My new shorts let me know that chamois cream would be a feature on our next ride and swinging my leg off the bike was awkward and sore. But I felt good if a little fatigued and only a little bit drunk off endorphins, which can be a slightly addictive feeling. Of course, the work required to get to that point is not.

Sometimes it’s not the clothing. It’s just bad weather

Posted: January 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

Last Wednesday evening, I laid out my cycling woolies, charged the battery on my new camera, and found booties for my cycling shoes. I hadn’t ridden much since the cold stuff had descended and I had taken even fewer pictures by bike so I was eager to try out my super-thin, Canon G9X. The reason for the optimism is that the the forecast on Thursday was for a sultry, balmy 41 degrees. After being in a deep-freeze for most of the holiday season, I thought at 41 I was going to feel the warming grace of a gentle sun. What I should have considered when I rolled out of my drive way at 10am was that 41 was the expected high…at 3pm. At 10, it was still below freezing and although I was wearing every piece of kit I owned by the time I rolled out of my ice-encrusted drive way and reached the top of my street, I was encased in ice and was wondering about the rationale behind this whole fitness thing.

Obviously, I had reconsidered this venture quite quickly and turned off at the next block to circle back home. I know the theory goes something about ‘no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ but that’s just misdirection from the fact that it’s fairly miserable to be riding skinny tires over ice.

On the plus side, after ditching the bike I had a great hike/run around Boulder Valley Ranch—moving at lurching pace means there was very little wind chill generated. On the down side, I wasn’t able to take any action shots with the new Christmas camera. Up until this past year, I always rode with my camera swung around my neck and shoulder–this made it easy to swing the camera to the front, catch a shot, and keep rolling. But this past summer I took a break from recording the rides and I wish I hadn’t. There are so many unexpected scenes I encounter riding along and around Boulder and I love capturing those fleeting moments and looking back at them later in the year. So, when the temps suggested a thawing, I was charged and ready. Sadly, no ride meant no pictures–and the Tuesday evening spinning crowd would likely not be amused at me taking their action shots.

Zen & the art of spinning

Posted: December 30th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

During the winter months, the Boulder Cycling club retreats to the warmth and comfort of the Rally Spinning class. There Heidi, our instructor, takes us through drills: sprints, climbs, down hill descents—watch the bear coming down Old Stage. During some of these less inspiring grinds, Heidi asks us to visualize climbing up Lee Hill or sprinting to catch a group in front. If you give yourself over to the idea, the tedium of spinning indoors is lifted and your mind’s eye plays the scene in front of you: the sharp left up Lee Hill, the rises along Nelson until the drop down 63rd, the glimpse of other riders in the distance as you reel them in(to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever reeled anything in).

During the break, I’ve been reading up on mindfulness, meditation, the practice of using different techniques for dealing with destructive thoughts, a fly-away mind or real physical pain. What I’ve gotten from it is that through practice I can learn to quiet the mind, approach irritability, envy—all these destructive emotions with ways that defuse or manage those feelings in a more constructive manner.

Last night, the readings I’ve been doing this past week came to me while spinning. Visualizing climbing up Lee Hill is not too far removed from looking at an event that annoys me from the perspective of mindfulness, both require focus and training. I’m sure I’m reaching here but to me it felt like I was calling upon similar techniques. In these books, meditation does sound different but perhaps in practice it is not so different than being absorbed in painting or music. After all, if new neurons are created by masters of painting or athletics and meditation then there must be some connection.

Mindfulness and spinning, winter’s strange bedfellows.

Books: Happiness, Matthieu Richard

Summertime: Leadville, Colorado

Posted: August 3rd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

Pre-Carter Lake Cycling Preparation—What to eat before the big ride

Posted: June 1st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling, Cycling Events | 1 Comment »
I arrived.

I arrived.

Last Saturday, I made it..cycling all the way out to Carter Lake and back into Boulder. I took the main Carter Lake entrance in…slowly spinning through the cork-screw to the top of the dam and then cycling back via HWY36, which has known to make adults cry as they creep slowly up the 5 hills of ruin back into Boulder. How did I achieve this stunning pro-like performance? Based on the latest in scientific and dietary research from an evening out with friends on the Friday night before, red wine & cheese are the key ingredients to achieve unprecedented training results. I admit I was dubious and I already felt like I was moving with the speed and ease that would make any 86 year old envious (except for maybe in Boulder.)But I went all in. Doubled-down on the triple-cream brie, took a wedge from the Wensleydale (with cranberries) and slathered a lovely cheese/dilly combo all over crackers, washing it all down with a blend of every imaginable variety of red wine (grenache, termpernillo, etc.) that has ever gathered together into a single glass. Venga!

Need training tips on what to eat before the big ride to meet your cycling goals, like an upcoming Triple Bypass? Me too!



Can I squeeze a two hour lunch time ride into one

Posted: December 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

Before I unravel myself from the work day, don too many layers for late fall Boulder temps, I envisage what my lunch time ride might look like. Me spinning effortlessly along trails, sun shining gently and warmly on my back, feeling at ease with the world around.  Sadly, a small portion of my ride is spent reflecting what would happen if I were to get a flat, how long would it take me to fix and how that would extend my lunch time ride into an ill-planned,  two-hour plus event.  The extra time would be spent sitting by my bike in contemplation of how this happened, what a bugger it was and if it were the back wheel an all-together different set of emotions would wash over me.  I don’t know why I feel like extracting myself for a lunch time ride feels like such an indulgence  and time away accelerates exponentially simply by riding away.  But for me it does.

But then I curve gently towards home and the sky and mountains open  up IMG_1538towards a horizon streaked with clouds. And I pause for a moment, thankful that I ignored the responsible calls to stay in to answer one more email or the possibility of flats and mechanicals. Maybe it takes riding away to see that.

Visiting my spiritual home—A sojourn to Leadville

Posted: October 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling Shops | No Comments »

I love Leadville. I love the ramshackle nature of the place, the way that everything is a little worn, a bit askew, not exact. The weekend we were visiting (in September), the good people of Leadville were practicing for their St. Patrick’s Day parade they hold..in March. And that pretty much sums up Leadville—if you’re over two miles above sea level, surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks and tailings of past mining efforts, you’ll look anywhere for an occasion to celebrate.

The weekend we went up the mountain sides flamed with colors.  You’d drive or walk past a huge swatch of evergreen, punctuated by the most amazing yellows and occasional oranges. The aim of the weekend was to do a little hiking, a little reading, some napping, repeat, which we more or less achieved with two active cattle dogs unimpressed with option 3 of the proceedings.

Burst of color

Burst of color


We grabbed coffee at the “City on the Hill” coffee shop mid-morning and wandered into the few shops off the main street Harrison. Melanzana is there and so is Cycles of Life bike shop, which is a pretty fabulous little shop. Most of their bikes for sale were mtn and that makes sense. They had a great assortment of gear and the guy helping me was really friendly. He said that the winters could be tough but on a clear, sunny February and the place is magical.  I picked up a jersey and a pair of socks for F. The shops was busy as was the street because not only was there a practice parade but also some sort of kids bike race.

One of things I most love about Leadville is its obvious history—you can just imagine people pulling up stakes on the east coast to come out West to try and strike, pan or make their fortune.  Leadville is not Vail or Breck or any of those more affluent, pretty, mountain ski towns. It wears its mining history on its sleeve—it’s a tough environment, even their bike race challenge the strongest and toughest with 100 miles of mountainous trails very little of it level or straight. But it has an enduring beauty and a special feel to it that is unique and warm.

Looks cosier outside than in

Looks cosier outside than in

Summer 2014—The summer that lasted an hour

Posted: September 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling, Cycling Events | No Comments »
What's the rush?!

What’s the rush?!

My mom moved out to Boulder a little over a year ago and one of the unexpected outcomes is that I have had the opportunity to explore more new trails, restaurants and local going-ons than I have ever before. As I have introduced Boulder to my mom, I too have gotten to act like a tourist.

As part of doing new things, I’ve joined the Boulder Cycling Club this summer and it’s been fantastic. If you’re an experienced rider, who flies faster than the wind, they have a group for you. If you fly along at a more leisurely pace and look forward to the happy hour at Boulder Beer, post-ride they have a group ride for you.

I volunteered at the Cyclist4Lyons event this past weekend as part of the club effort; the event was both a celebration and commemoration for Lyons one-year after the flood. The craft beer folks had a strong showing; the volunteer fire department represented; the food vans always seemed to be busy and the music coming from the stage was classic Lyons.  Some members of the club rode out to Lyons from Boulder. It was a beautiful fall morning; we left Boulder around 9:30 unsure of what exactly to wear but excited to be part of an effort lending support to Lyons. Boulder in the Fall means that whatever you wear, invariably means that you are wearing the right clothing for only 25% of the time. On the whole, it was superb ride. I had never ridden west on St. Vrain; it has quite the kick right before Hwy 36 but then a sweet descent into Lyons; we coasted into Bohn Park and the bike corral and begin to help out. Great day, great cause and I hope that the event helped Lyons in some way.

My life on a bike

Posted: May 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | 3 Comments »

Elly Blue and Cecily Walker were having a very profound exchange on Twitter until I came in with my 140 characters. They were referencing economic memoirs related to bikes. I took that high-brow thinking and translated it into my head to be where I’ve been when I’ve been on a bike. I came up with three distinct phases in my life.


San Pedro Park

How Long Will I Have to be Here – High School

When I was high-school and everyone was trying desperately to get away…sometimes from their own selves. I would load Journey, A-ha and whatever else 80s pop music that appealed to me at that time and would head towards the nicer parts of town, like Olmos Park or Alamo Heights—essentially the Monte Vista area of San Antonio.  I was riding a vintage Raleigh, racing green, with down-shifters and drop handle bars. I have no idea how I ended up with it but it was old enough that it had ones of those lights that was powered by rear cassette.  It was a brute to change the tires on, so I would always head down to Charles A. James bike shop in downtown San Antonio ostensibly for a tune-up but more likely to change the tube in the bike tire.

Once the bike was more or less in working order, which pretty much summed up my life at that time, I’d  head out from my slightly down-at-heel neighborhood towards McCullough and the cleaner, tidier neighborhoods of Monte Vista.  Once in Alamo Heights I’d ride all over the area, my favorite road was one that ran parallel to Olmos Basin and rose slowly, winding, tree- lined on one side with big Live Oaks, the limbs of which hung precariously over the road from one side. The other side of the road, huge, imposing limestone walls blocked all visuals into the life on the other side.  At the end of the road was, this being Texas, the gun range. So the music playing in my ears was occasionally punctuated by guns being fired over the not-to-distant horizon.

I would set a challenge for myself to not break cadence up the entire hill.  I’d put my gears into something challenging and fly up that hill with only a couple of thoughts—music in my ears and the number of years until I could get the hell out of San Antonio.

College, Mtn-Biking, Music – Austin

Fast forward a few years and my bike and I are on Town Lake trail. I felt like had finally found home.  I’m not much better off financially but still invest in, what was the time, a pretty solid mtn bike called the Stumpjumper. It was the advent of mtn biking and Austin was as cool a place as any to get into this relatively new sport.


Hook ’em

It’s was also the beginning of the 90s so Austin was just beginning to become hip and transplants from all over the country were showing up. It’s pre-Lance but there are people wearing spandex, looking the part and not smiling while doing it. I’m probably not smiling either. I’m working to put myself through school and between classes and work, there’s little time for riding or anything else, for that matter.

I ride as much as I can during the 5 years I’m at UT (1 year off to work) but most of that time was absorbed with trying to figure out how I was going to pay for this degree without ending up drowning it debt.  Taking the bike out provided both a physical and mental outlet as I turned over in my mind how to keep going. Riding along Town Lake, or Zilker Park or some of the mtn bike trails near town gave me some respite from worries.  You can’t continue to be too worked-up, when you are standing on trails thick with Live Oaks and the sound of rushing water filling your ears.

It’s less hot here than in Texas, right?

I'll ride from here

I’ll ride from here

I got my degree and soon was headed out to Boulder, CO. The only consideration I had made when deciding where to live next was that it be cooler than Texas.  Another ancillary benefit was that, at the time I moved, Boulder had more bikes than cars.  I was sleeping on an air mattress in a veritable dump off of Colorado Rd., near the university.  I had traveled with only what would fit into my Toyota Tercel, so I did not have a bike during this major transition. But that condition was soon changed by a used, red bike with dodgy gears.  The first couple of years were spent cycling the main bike trails in and around Boulder. I would occasionally venture out of town, east towards one of the L-towns, both inspired and physically intimidated when I turned around by the site of the Flatirons looming large in the distance.  One of my favorite rides was out along Baseline, following a road that swept by a small lake, in which the Flatirons reflected majestically on cool, clear days.

Flash forward several (decades, but who’s counting) years and I’ve been lucky to upgrade both where I live and my bike. I still live in Boulder but no longer sleep on a mattress with a slow leak. I also share my home now with a husband and two furs and a few bikes in the garage—the garage is probably the size of that first apartment I lived in in Boulder. I now have an 80’s pink DeRosa and there aren’t many days when I’ve taken it out when I haven’t heard an appreciative comment.

There hasn’t been a time in my life when I haven’t ridden, to get away, to think, to shed those stubborn pounds, to work or just to cruise around. As I get older, I think about the importance of not sitting still, to keep moving and I hope I continue to ride well into my more mature years.  Cycling around Boulder was/is, on the whole, a joyful, optimistic experience. Yes, there are more drivers with less patience than even 5 years ago but all the reasons I chose to move here still remain: bike trails, mtn views and it’s cooler than in Texas (although, that seems to be changing, as well).

If you can’t beat ’em, may as well linger at the back, chat and take pictures

Posted: April 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Cycling | No Comments »

IMG_0636This year I finally did it. I got myself and my bike organized and out the door to join the Boulder Cycling Club’s Tuesday night ride. I’d like to say I showed up promptly, looking the part but instead I was about 10 minutes late and dressed for Winter’s worst. Fortunately, there appeared another laggard, who thankfully gave me a general idea of the direction and I was off trying to catch the back wheel of the back of the group.

And a good-sized group it was, although I didn’t find that out until I was mashing the pedals up to Eldorado Springs and was greeted with faces fully alive with smiles, swooping down in the opposite, down hill direction. There were even some women waving happily to me within the pod of brightly-colored cyclists. I wished I was amongst them dashing down the mountain road but instead I was fully and rightfully at the back going through my paces. But I was not alone. Greg, who I think volunteered for sweeper on this ride, kept me company, in good spirits and excited to come back the following week. Thanks Greg!

The group all met back at the Wilderness Pub for grub and beers. Sadly, I was unable to join them because in my haste to make the ride, I’d forgotten about the post-ride chance to meet and greet and failed to bring lights, more appropriate shoes or money.  In the end, it worked out well as Mr. R and I are on this paleo diet which primarily consists of eating like our grandparents did. During the war.

It was a fun, social ride, exactly the type of experience I was looking to have.  Next time, I hope to meet some of the other riders during the ride and get to know them better over a beer and some wings after the ride.