Friday, November 21, 2008

The Right Fit


I'm still without a home computer, so my blog entries will continue to be sporadic for at least the next 10 days. Thanks for your patience.

The Right Fit

Several of my friends and co-workers ask me for advice when they are looking at buying bikes or upgrading components. Let's face it – I'm a gear geek. I read Mountain Bike Action cover to cover each month, and check out and whenever I have a few spare minutes.

One recurring question is: "How much do I have to spend to get a good bike?"

The answer varies depending on how you plan to use the bike – are you going to ride it around the neighborhood once a week with your kids in tow? Are you going to commute 10 or more miles each way to work? Are you going to ride at least 3 days per week for fitness? Are you going to try a 100 mile charity ride? Or maybe give racing – either on-road or off-road, a try?

If your stated objective is to ride more than 3 times per week, or to do some rides of significant distance, my advice is this: Figure out your planned budget for the purchase, then hold back between $100 - $400 for a professional bike fitting.

Having your bike fit to you – rather than you trying to compensate for a poorly fitting bike, will save you from a variety of nagging aches and pains, not to mention potentially serious injuries, in the long term. Both Phil and I have had bike fits at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, and it has been worth every dime. [A bonus is that our insurance actually covered part of the cost of the fit as "physical therapy."] Phil was able to eliminate chronic back pain caused by a small misalignment of his cleats, and I have been able to reduce my chronic knee pain.

So, spend enough to get a nice frame that fits you. You can always upgrade components later if you find you are riding a lot and want to lighten up your bike.

Then spend the extra money you held back for a professional bike fit. No matter how much you spend on a new bike, if it doesn't fit you well, you will have discomfort when you ride, and eventually you'll just stop riding. Don't let that happen to you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Movie Time

Watching movies is one way to pass the interminable hours we spend riding our CompuTrainers indoors during the crappy winter weather. NetFlix has been the answer to relieving our boredom for two or three years. It carries multi-disc compilations of about the last 8 years of the Tour de France, a couple Giro d'Italias, and some other random cycling movies.

Our favorite movies, though, are not yet available on NetFlix. They are two movies produced by Gripped Films.

The first movie is "24 Hours Solo" about Chris Eatough's effort to win his seventh consecutive 24 Hour Solo championship. [I just looked at the website to get the link and the home page says"The perfect motivation for long, dark winter months (and endless hours on the trainer.)" Amen to that!]

The second film is "Off Road to Athens" about athletes trying to make the 2004 Olympic mountain bike team. The US only had 3 slots - 2 for the men and 1 for the women.

There are a number of trailers and extra scenes on the website, so check it out if you have time. The DVDs are available from Or, we'll loan our copies to you anytime between May and August!

One reason I bring this up is that just this week there was finally a judgment in a lawsuit stemming from USA Cycling's selection process for the 2004 team. If I hadn't seen Off Road to Athens to understand the background, I would have been outraged by the award. Having seen the film, the award just makes me sad. How do you put a dollar value on someone's lifetime dream of being an Olympian?

Anyway, I'm now looking forward to renting Wall-E, which looks like another great movie to watch while sweating on the trainer. Sigh.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Double Cross


You might remember my anxiety and exhilaration when I did my first 'cross race at the end of September. Since then work, weather or the siren song of sweet single track has kept Phil from getting his first 'cross race under his chamois.

I spied a "newbie" race on the schedule for the November 9 race and did my best to shame Phil into signing up. I had an unanticipated co-conspirator when Jeffrey said he'd like to give it a try, too. So Saturday morning we made our way to Chatfield State Park for the "On the Cross" event.

It was brisk.

Oh heck, let's be frank – it was damn cold! 26º when we registered for the 8 am race. We all put on all of our clothes – skull caps under our helmets, a thermal layer, a fleecy layer and a windbreaker, warm gloves, tights and anything else we could wriggle into. Luckily the sun was out, so there was a tiny little bit of solar energy keeping us from completely icing up.

About 15 or 16 "newbies" lined up for the start. "Newbies" are supposed to be riders who are new to cyclo-cross and "citizen" racers. Citizen racers do not have a race license from any accredited cycling organization. Citizens are typically enthusiastic recreational riders, but they are not "racers" and are not affiliated with organized teams. Phil, Jeffrey and I fit the Citizen profile to a T.

The course was great. Fun, swoopy single track through the trees, tough technical transitions, barrier work, and sand sections. It was a long course, but that kept people from getting lapped. Here is a little video someone shot during the Men's Open race.

Phil, Jeffrey and I all had a ton of fun. We warmed up (understatement – we were all dripping wet at the end) and had fun riding our bikes in the woods. Phil and Jeffrey both have the 'cross bug now – excellent!

I liked the course so much I came back at 1 pm and rode with the "big girls" [the Pro Women and the rest of the Women's open field.] I think there were around 35 or 40 riders all together. Again, I was not DFL. There were 3 unaffiliated Citizen type riders in the field and we spent the whole race chasing each other. I ended up second from last and did not get lapped, so it was a banner day for me.


Sunday morning we went to the Schwab Boss of Cross event at the Colorado State Patrol test track facility, just down the road from us on South Table Mountain. Phil signed up for the first race of the morning, the Sport Men's 45. It was a bit warmer than Saturday; probably about 40º at the 830 am start.

As we stood around getting Phil's bike ready we overheard a guy talking to his friend. It went something like this:

Guy 1 (obviously a road racer): Yeah, I finally decided to give 'cross a try.
Guy 2: Are you riding with the 45s?
Guy 1: Oh, hell no! My friends all said that would be suicide. Those guys are fast – and serious! No, I'm doing the 35+ & 4s at 930.
Guy 2: Great decision. Those 45s are just wicked.

So . . . Phil's eyes kept getting bigger as we listened. Uh oh. Strategic error; we didn't know which category he should race in, so we went with what seemed logical. Rookie mistake.

Then we headed down to the start area (with a lot of really serious looking middle-aged guys). On the way we heard a wave of whining. The course was evidently thick with "goat heads," Colorado's indigenous tire shredding thorns. Several riders had already changed two or three tires that flatted while they warmed up on the course. At the start line at least three guys were frantically trying to get to their spare wheels as their tires slowly lost air.

Then the whistle blew and the horde exploded. And Phil started hanging on for dear life. Those guys were FAST. I think Phil was secretly relieved when he flatted – both tires – near the end of his second lap.

So next time we'll know better and Phil will race with the 35s; which is nice because that is usually the second or third race, instead of the first, so it may be slightly warmer.

I came back at 1 pm to do my race. And it was bad from the start. There were no other Citizen riders in the field. The women were scary fast, the course was washboard, rocks, thorns and no sections where I could build up any speed.

I got lapped at the end of my second lap, and then I got freaked out. I think I would have been ok if they sucked me up and spit me out the back, but I ended up bunched in with the real racers. I didn't want to mess them up and I don't have the bike skills to ride in a pack through a rocky washboard field. I was praying for a flat tire, but I may have been the only rider all day able to avoid the goat heads.

So I quit.

I'm still disappointed in myself.

I have a lot to learn about 'cross racing. But the way the women's field is structured it can be pretty intimidating, too. I mean, I'm riding in the same field as Amy Dombroski and Kelli Emmett. Uh . . . yeah. That makes sense.

So my new mission is to see if I can get the American Cycling Association to include a Citizens field in its 'cross events. It can be co-ed; I don't mind racing with the guys. I think a lot more people would try 'cross if it was less intimidating. Because, at the end of the day - it's just FUN!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Brief Blog Break

My computer (circa 2002) didn't give me the blue screen of death, but it was beginning to operate S-L-O-W and erratically. Phil took pity on me and we ordered a new computer last week.

Neither Phil nor I have heard anything good about Vista, so we specifically found – and ordered - a desktop that could be "downgraded" to an XP operating system. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up yesterday, it was a Vista machine. I refused it. The Geek Squad guy was unhappy that he's going to have to re-order a computer and then re-install the special features (mirrored drives for back-up capabilities). But he basically said, I don't blame you – Vista is a piece of crap.

So, I am without a home computer for the time being.

When I'm back on-line I'll have reports – with photos - on the two cyclocross races Phil and I did this weekend . . . one good . . . and one disappointing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Almost Breaking my Own Rules

Actually, I adopted these rules from Fatty (of course). They do seem to be very reasonable guidelines. Today, though, in the spirit of noting things for which I'm thankful, I really want to break the "Don’t talk about stuff you shouldn’t talk about. If your site isn’t specifically about religion or politics, don’t talk about either" rule.

But I won't. I'll just leave it at letting you know I am really, truly, honestly thankful that I won't have to listen to another political ad for at least 18 months.

I'm having a tough time taking pictures of the things for which I'm thankful, such as having an extra hour to sleep in each morning. But I did get a few photos to share:

I'm thankful Phil is such a hard worker. He has been cleaning up leaves day after day for the last two weeks. We probably have one more round of raking and mowing before calling it quits for the season.

I'm thankful for kitties to squeeze; if Phil didn't get to indulge in kitty squeezing I'm sure he'd need more hugs from me than I could tolerate. I'm just not a hugger. Not in the DNA, I guess.

I'm thankful my friend Mary is an avid mountainbike rider and that she is willing to share her secret rides with us. Sometimes the rides are fierce, but that's part of the adventure.

I am enjoying the challenge of identifying things for which I'm thankful; it is making me more mindful. Give it a try and see if you change your perspective and spend more time with your glass half-full.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dynamic Stretching

Last May Phil and I did the Kokopelli Trail MTB ride with Bikerpelli Sports. One of the other riders we met on the trip was a personal trainer. We noticed Dan and his friend Mario on the first day because they are big guys. Both played college football.

But even more striking than their size were the warm ups we saw them performing each morning and during the day after breaks. Dan explained the theories of dynamic stretching to us. This New York Times article discusses the concept.

We started working with Dan at the end of May and learned several dynamic stretches aimed at helping us loosen our chronically tight hips, as well as stregthen our core by challenging our balance.

If you are looking for a few warm ups to challenge you, take a look at the suggestions on Mark Verstegen's Core Performance site. My favorites include:

1. LEG CRADLE - This movement will help improve the mobility around your hip capsule

2. KNEE HUG (MOVING) - This movement is a great way to build strength, stability & mobility

3. HALF KNEELING LUNGE STRETCH - This stretch works through the hips, glutes and hamstring


5. DROP LUNGE - This movement is a great way to improve the flexibility of your whole hip capsule

6. BACKWARD LUNGE WITH LATERAL FLEXION (MOVING) - This movement will help improve the mobility of your hips

7. LYING OPPOSITE - PHYSIOBALLThis movement will help prevent back injury by developing your rotary stability

8. PHYSIOBALL LATERAL ROLL - This movement will help provide lateral stability

9. INVERTED HAMSTRING STRETCH (BACKWARD) - This movement is one of our favorites for elongating your hamstring and improving your balance


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Early Thanksgiving

**If you look at my blog links you'll see a new link to Lisa Kimmet's blog. Lisa is my niece, and the inspiration for me to start this blog. She is going to take a photo of something for which she is thankful each day during November . I think that is a very cool idea - I often fail to take the time to be mindful in that way. I'll include something similar in my posts throughout the month.

While I love Thanksgiving dinner at least as much as the next person (and pumpkin pie twice as much), I think there are many other ways to celebrate thankfulness for the bounty in our lives.

Yesterday Phil, Jeffrey and I went out to Buffalo Creek for our "last ride of the season" out there. I don't think I've ever been able to ride those trails this late in the year. And I'm ever so thankful we were able to do so yesterday.

On the one hand, I absolutely love the unseasonably warm and dry weather. On the other, I looked around at the destruction from the wild fires that scorched the area several years ago and realized that we really need some moisture. Otherwise there will be another raging fire season.

[If you click on the two photos above to enlarge them, you'll be able to spy Phil and Jeffrey riding through the burn area.]

We rode two sections of trail we hadn't ridden before - a little section of Gashouse Gulch that is super swoopy and twisty and fun - with several washed out areas that could really rise up and smack you in a moment of inattention.
Then we climbed up the Morrison Creek Trail before catching the Colorado Trail to round out our day. The weather was perfect, the trail conditons were excellent (a little bit of moisture to make the dirt tacky and firm up the sandy sections) and the company was outstanding. I am thankful.

So here's a little challenge - what are you thankful for today?